In today’s second chat in the Hypersonix series, we are talking about the key technology that will make our space launch systems reusable – the scramjet.
So what is a Scramjet?
Well, a scramjet is an air-breathing engine, similar to the turbojet engine on a commercial aircraft. However unlike a turbojet, scramjets do not have rotating blades on the air intake.
Importantly, a scramjet can go a lot faster than a turbojet, without carrying oxygen like most rockets need to do. A scramjet’s oxidiser comes free from the air!
Turbojets get too hot to go faster than Mach 3
Now, a turbojet engine sucks in air and generates ‘thrust’ (forward push) by burning fuel with the air which then shoots out the back, propelling the aircraft forward.
However, In order to take off, a turbojet needs rotating blades to compress the air, limiting it’s speed to about three times the speed of sound (Mach 3) since the blades get too hot to go any faster.