Another step towards CRATS

Courtesy of the Australian Science Establishment and with a little help from DARPA:



I remember seeing a presentation by the lead professor who was working on this project back in 2004 in Adelaide. They had VERY LITTLE funding, scrambled to find surplus parts and a few sponsors, and yet managed to get some great initial readings which led to further experimental testing and now this.

Kudos to all involved.

And also to Matt Metcalf at Sufficiently Advanced, for being another sane voice in the wilderness in recognising that it is this sort of development, which will then be deployed first in the military environment, that will eventually come down to the civilian/private sector and be yet another piece in the eventual creation of cheap reliable reusable access to space.


4 thoughts on “Another step towards CRATS

  1. What makes progress in this realm a bitch is that it’s already hard to build a wind tunnel that’s fast/hot enough to get a brief “shot” at Mach 10+ and grab high-rate measurements off a nose cone, TPS sample or airframe model:

    Click to access longshot.pdf

    People who know tell me it’s flatly unaffordable to build one to test a scramjet in sustained operation. So you push your CFD simulation as far as it will go, but that’s dicey at the inlet and even worse in the combustion zone. To actually test the sucker, you have to launch it on a rocket, with all that implies for higher cost and a slower test-modify-test cycle.

    Rocket engines on test stands, with rapid unscheduled disassembly always a possibility for new designs, are already a hairy step beyond static testing of piston and turbojet engines, with . But when your only “test stand” has to be miles up and going 8000 kph or so…!

    As you say… “eventual.”

  2. The (IMO) silly people who think Orion-style pulsed nuclear rockets were the panacea for launch costs never seem to really consider how hard it would have been to test those suckers either.

  3. Yes, for certain values of “eventual.” We will have low-cost access with pure rockets long before we do it with scramjets. Not to take anything away from the achievement, of course–it is a useful technology (probably militarily)–just not one for space launch in the near (and possibly even in the far) term.

    By the way, it was good to see you in Washington, Shubber.

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