The Scramjet Future?

Every been curious about what comes after rockets? While the explosive lift-offs are awesome and have been helping NASA (and pretty much everyone else) do heavy lifting at incredible speeds throughout all of the space race, rockets require a great deal of hevy fuel (and Oxygen) to get up into space and don’t allow the manuverability we expect in a next generation space craft. For these reasons (and a bunch of others typically tied to safety), NASA has tied its plans for future superfast, ultrasonic transportation Scramjet (Super Combustion Ramjet) technology.

Current scramjet test vehicals reach over 7,000 mph (10x the speed of sound), going from 0 to 165 mph in .75 seconds. Check out the following video for even more information (note the selection of background music here):

The problem? While Scramjets may be able to overcome manuverability obstacles, it doesn’t seem likely that they’re going to be able to do it without rockets. In order to reach their ultrasonic speeds, most scramjets that have been tested, plagued with supersonic minimum speeds, need to be rocketed to 2.5-5 times the speed of sound by rockets in order to start their engines and reach their top speeds. Unless, of course, those electromagnetic catapults can start getting scramjets to their required speeds.