HIFiRE test flight gets a high five

By Calvin Palmer

Scientists have conducted a successful test flight of a hypersonic aircraft at the Woomera test range in South Australia, it was announced today.

The flight was part of a joint venture between Australia’s Defense Science and Technology Organization and the U.S. Air Force.

Defense Science and Personnel Minister Warren Snowdon said the flight, conducted earlier this month, was the first in a series of up to 10 hypersonic flight experiments.

The program is called the Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation (HIFiRE) and is investigating hypersonics technology and its potential for next-generation aeronautics.

Hypersonics is the study of flight exceeding five times the speed of sound and this trial has successfully tested flight and mission control systems that will be used in future experiments, Snowdon said.

“Using nitrogen gas valves as thrusters to maneuver the test vehicle in space, the test vehicle was turned on to the correct heading and elevation for re-entry into the atmosphere as designed,” he said.

The test vehicle was carried some 125 miles into the atmosphere aboard a rocket launched from Woomera.

It then dived back into the atmosphere at high speed to test the hypersonic flight technology.

Snowdon said the HIFiRE collaboration had already achieved some significant milestones in design, assembly and pre-flight testing of hypersonic vehicles and the design of complex avionics and flight systems.

“Hypersonic technology offers a quantum leap in speed and fuel efficiency for air vehicles of the future,” he said.

The HIFiRE project is worth about A$70 million ($55 million) and is one of the largest collaborative ventures undertaken between Australia and the U.S.

[Based on a report by The Australian.]

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