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Australian Engineers Test Super-Fast Aircraft Engine


Researchers in Australia have conducted a test of a supersonic jet designed to travel at speeds up to 8,000 kilometers per hour.

The pilotless craft was launched by rocket Saturday from a test range at Woomera, in the Australian Outback.

The flight was made to test the craft's engine which was a supersonic combustion ramjet, or "scramjet."

Scramjets use oxygen from the atmosphere to burn hydrogen fuel, but they must be accelerated to a speed of about 5,000 kilometers per hour before they begin to operate.

Researchers at the University of Queensland said liftoff was good, but it was too soon to tell if the scramjet engine had functioned as designed.

The scientists say scramjet-powered passenger planes would revolutionize intercontinental air travel.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.