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  Supersonic rocket fails launch test
Updated 31 October 2001, 15.38
Vapour trail left by scramjet rocket
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it's a scramjet!

This unique supersonic rocket engine should be capable of flying at over seven times the speed of sound.

Lift-off!
Unfortunately it failed its first test flight over Australia on Tuesday.

Scientists revealed that the rocket that was carrying the engine flew off course.

No moving parts

Scramjet engines have no moving parts and grab the oxygen needed to help burn their fuel as they pass through the air.

Man with rocket cone
The only problem is that the engine only works at speeds greater than five times the speed of sound.

It's hoped that scramjet technology could cut the flying time from London to Sydney to two hours. At the moment the journey takes about a day.

It could also help cut the cost of launching rockets into space.

The diagram below shows details of the launch.




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