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First of Its Type: China to Test Next-Generation Hypersonic Engine

Discussion in 'China & Asia Pacific' started by layman, Apr 17, 2017.

  1. layman

    layman Aurignacian STAR MEMBER

    May 1, 2012
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    United States

    Chinese engineers from the Beijing Research Institute of Machinery are set to test a prototype combined-cycle hypersonic aircraft engine and first-stage carrier rockets later this year, Aviation Week reported.That will pave the way for the first demonstration flight of a full-scale propulsion system by 2025.

    As experts have noted, the main problem in the creation of such engines is the fact that each of them can operate in a narrow range of speeds but in order to design a power house that would accelerate the aircraft from zero to hypersonic speed (more than Mach 5 or over 6, 2,000 kilometers per hour), that is not yet possible.

    The hypersonic engine, which the Chinese engineers are currently working on, is expected to be able to accelerate the aircraft from zero to speeds of more than Mach 10.

    The development has been called TRRE [Turbo-aided Rocket-augmented Ram / scramjet Engine].

    The uniqueness of such a design is that a single casing combines turbojet, rocket and ramjet air-jet engines together.Furthermore, the nozzle of this combined power machine has a variable diameter – depending on the speed of flight and which of the three engines is running.

    At the first stage of this flight, the engine will operate its low-speed turbojet component. At the next stage, after reaching Mach 2, a rocket and ramjet engine will be turned on.

    After Mach 6, the rocket engine switches off and the ramjet reactive air passes into hypersonic mode with an additional supply of liquid oxygen to the combustion chamber.

    If successful, the engine could be the first of its type in the world to power a hypersonic vehicle or the first stage of a two-stage-to-orbit spaceplane.

    Published April 16, 2017
  2. defc0n

    defc0n 2nd Lieutant FULL MEMBER

    Jan 11, 2017
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    The test is going to interesting..Wonder if it's result will come in public domain.
  3. RMFAN

    RMFAN Lieutenant FULL MEMBER

    Sep 2, 2017
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    South Africa

    A look at China's most exciting hypersonic aerospace programs

    The latest scramjets, near-space planes, and super wind tunnels.

    By Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer April 18, 2017

    Hypersonic technology has the potential to revolutionize both military and civilian aerospace, so it's no surprise that China is showing off its program.

    At the 21st International Space Plane and Hypersonic Systems and Technology in Xiamen—a global forum of scientists and engineers researching hypersonic concepts and technologies—Chinese scientists provided key details on several little-known but game-changing scramjets, near-space planes, and super wind tunnels.


    This December 2015 scramjet test flight is the first public-source picture of China's scramjet program, which set a high speed of Mach 7.

    National Natural Science Foundation of China

    First, let's talk about scramjets. These have air-breathing engines (like turbofans and piston engines), so they don't need to carry a supply of oxidizer to combust their fuel. This makes them lighter and more efficient than rocket propelled missiles, as well as being more maneuverable. The first open source image of a Chinese scramjet test emerged in December 2015. It flew to an altitude of 30 kilometers (over 18 miles), and reached a Mach 7 speed. Interestingly, while American scramjet tests have generally been air dropped before firing their rocket boosters, the Chinese scramjet test was boosted from a land-based launcher. Scramjets could enable more efficient and easier forms of space launch and hypersonic airliners, just as they could be used for high-speed cruise missiles to replace ballistic missiles.


    The turbo-aided rocket-augmented ram/scramjet engine (TRRE), which uses rocket augmentation in order to aid in the transition into the supersonic and hypersonic flight regimes, could be the world's first combined cycle engine to fly in 2025, paving the way for hypersonic near space planes and single-stage space launchers.

    Beijing Power Machinery Research Institute

    A hypersonic plane can fly in the "near-space" altitude of 12 miles to 60 miles, allowing it to shoot into orbit with integrated rockets, or fly civilian and military missions in near space. Such a hypersonic plane could circumnavigate the world in a couple hours, out of the reach of conventional air defenses. China has several programs researching hypersonic combined cycle engines, which consist of a turbofan stage for subsonic/low supersonic flight, and a ramjet stage for the transition from supersonic to hypersonic flight.

    The most promising program is Beijing Power Machinery Research Institute's turbo-aided rocket-augmented ram/scramjet combined cycle (a mouthful often abbreviated to TRRE), which uses integrated liquid-fueled rockets to boost the performance of the turbine and ramjet stages, thus making a safer and smoother transition from supersonic to hypersonic flight of Mach 10. With key components like the engine inlet, cooling, and combustion already developed, ground tests of the system are beginning later this year. The reported plan is for a full-scale TRRE testbed to begin flights by 2025, with a 2030 test flight.


    The FD-21, a 556-foot-long wind tunnel, was finished in 2016 by the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics, who will turn it on later this year. Reaching speeds of Mach 10-15, it's also large enough to test full-sized components of hypersonic propulsion, like gliders and scramjets.

    China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics

    And then there are the hypersonic wind tunnels. China has the world's largest hypersonic wind tunnel, the detonation drive JF-12, and is working to build an even larger one. The 556-foot-long FD-21 hypersonic shock tunnel can reach speeds of Mach 10-15, well above the JF-12's Mach 5-9 range. Clearly, China is not content to restrict its flight research to the lower end of the hypersonic speed range.


    Chinese scramjets, as part of combined cycle engines, could allow China to fly Mach 6 airplanes, as portrayed in this speculative CGI, anywhere in the world in under three hours, at speeds and altitudes impervious to modern air defenses. It is highly likely that due to the nature of material sciences and laws of physics, hypersonic aircraft like the American SR-72 and its Chinese counterparts would look similar to each other (like how most modern attack submarines share the same general hull shape).

    Grassroots (artist)

    At the Xiamen event, Chinese engineers also reported on a wide range of other hypersonic technologies, such as plasma jets to steer hypersonic thrust, advanced heat resistant composites, and new fuels. The event was yet another indication that, with well established programs in spaceplanes and scramjets, China is set for a hypersonic flight boom.

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