Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has designed and manufactured a new lightweight, but strong, carbonfibre nosecone for the University of Queensland’s Centre for Hypersonics’ HyShot scramjet project as part of efforts to address a weight problem with the programme, writes Emma Kelly.

The 2m (6.5ft) long, 60cm diameter nosecone, weighing 16kg (35.2lb), has been designed by the CSIRO’s Exploration and Mining division due to the group’s expertise in high-strength, low-weight composite materials that are used to make drilling rods for mining. The nosecone involved a number of challenges, according to CSIRO scientist Phil Teakle, including programming the carbonfibre winding rig and finding a curing oven in Brisbane large enough to take the component.

“The main part of the design was achieved within a month. However, the manufacture took longer as large moulds had to be made to a fairly high degree of accuracy and with a very smooth finish. The actual filament winding and curing only took a couple of days,” says Teakle.

The Hyshot vehicle accelerates to 5,945kt (11,000km/h) and reaches a height of 400km (250 miles), after which experiments are conducted during re-entry. Nosecone separation occurs once the vehicle has left the Earth’s atmosphere.

The next scramjet launch for the programme is scheduled for next month from the Woomera test range in South Australia.

The launch is part of the Hypersonic Collaborative Australian/US Experiment programme with the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Source: Flight International