Prelims cum Mains Science & Tech

India’s hypersonic vehicle test fails to meet tech parameters

In News:
  • An Indian hypersonic weapon technology demonstrator was flight tested for the first time today by the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO).
News Summary:
  • India conducted a first test flight of the indigenously developed Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV).
  • Once it is achieved successfully, India will join another select club of countries having such technology that are the US, Russia and China.
Scaramjet Engine
  • A scramjet engine means a supersonic Combustion Ramjet (Scramjet) engine.
  • A conventional rocket carries both liquid Hydrogen as fuel and liquid Oxygen for combustion. On the other hand, a scramjet engine carries only liquid Hydrogen as fuel and uses Oxygen from atmosphere for combustion to produce thrust.
  • Since the rocket fitted with scramjet engine does not have to carry Oxygen as oxidiser, it is lighter and can carry an extra payload equal to the weight of Oxygen.
  • Scramjet engines work most efficiently at supersonic speeds between Mach 3 and Mach 6.
  • The Hyporsonic Scramjets fly at speeds in excess of Mach 6.
Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV):
  • HSTDV is an unmanned scramjet demonstration aircraft for hypersonic speed flight.
  • The aircraft forms an important component of the country’s ambitious programme for development of a hypersonic cruise missile system.
  • It is a dual-use technology which will have multiple civilian applications as well.
  • It can also be used for launching satellites at low cost.
News Summary:
  • India conducted the maiden launch of a new hypersonic technology demonstrator vehicle (HSTDV) that will have futuristic applications for next generation missiles and aerial systems.
Flight test goals:
  • The vehicle in this test was conceptualised to demonstrate the indigenous Scramjet technology for a short duration.
  • The vehicle was test launched using the Agni 1 missile platform that was to take it up to a predetermined altitude.
  • At the pretermined altitude, the scramjet technology had to be validated with separation of the platform and a short flight at high altitude.
  • The missile on which the platform was mounted successfully took off from the range.
  • However, it is learnt that the test could not be completed to demonstrate the vehicle at hypersonic speed as the Agni 1 did not reach the desired altitude for the test.
Way forward:
  • Despite not being fully successful, the test is a small first step but an important one in the long-standing propulsion project.
  • An advanced technology aeronautical test of this kind even achieving flight-worthy status is a major achievement.
  • Further tests will be required to validate the HSTDV that was to demonstrate a short duration flight.
  • The long term vision is for the hypersonic propulsion technologies to fuel platforms for extended air defence, global targeting and surveillance/reconnaissance.


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