Centre for Hypersonics



  • SCRAMSPACE was a 1.8 metre-long free-flying hypersonic scramjet – and the research project that surrounds it.
  • Scramjets are air-breathing engines that travel at hypersonic speeds.
  • The SCRAMSPACE was designed to operate at 8600km/h or eight times the speed of sound (Mach 8).

What happened?

  • In August 2013, the scramjet was carefully packaged and sent, via air post, 14,600km away to Norway.
  • The scramjet will was designed to reach an altitude of 340 kilometres by a two-stage rocket. After leaving the atmosphere, it was designed to separate from the rocket and reorient for re-entry.
  • On the return flight, there would be a three-second window to collect key data from various flight sensors, before the scramjet disintegrated.
  • Unfortunately, the scramjet payload was not delivered to the correct altitude and speed during the flight test on 18 September 2013 due to a problem with the first-stage rocket motor.
  • While the final stage of the project, the flight test, did not deliver hypersonic flight data, the ground testing and modelling and analysis components of the project delivered many important research results.
  • This project provided insights into hypersonic physics, hypersonic combustion, performance of materials and components and how hypersonic vehicles will be designed to fly in the future.

Other background

  • SCRAMSPACE was the first and largest project funded by the Australian Space Research Program.
  • Australia has a reputation for world-class hypersonics.
  • The team was a $14 million international consortium of partners in five countries, Australia, Germany, Italy, Japan and USA, and led by The University of Queensland's Centre for Hypersonics.
  • The core objective was to build capacity and capability, in particular a talent pool, for the Australian space and aerospace industry.