Researchers in Australia say they have achieved supersonic ignition in the atmosphere for the first time with the successful test of an experimental hypersonic aircraft.

The scientists say data from a 10-minute test flight at the end of July at Woomera in South Australia indicates that supersonic combustion successfully took place.

The scramjet works by using air in the atmosphere to burn its rocket fuel rather than carrying its own oxidant – thus reducing the weight of the craft.

The project leader, Allan Paull, said the craft had reached 7.6 times the speed of sound. More here.