India conducted a successful first test flight of the indigenously developed Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) from a base off the Odisha coast. The only other countries that possess this technology are the US, Russia and China. The HSTDV is an unmanned scramjet (allowing supersonic combustion) demonstration vehicle that can cruise up to a speed of mach 6 (6x the speed of sound) and rise up to an altitude of 32 km in 20 seconds.
It has a range of uses, including missiles of the future, and energy-efficient, low cost and reusable satellite-launch vehicle. What gives a hypersonic missile its potency is the speed at which it travels, said Rajeshwari Rajagopalan, an expert on space and nuclear technology at the New Delhi- based Observer Research Foundation think- tank. Countries like Russia and China have perfected this technology which makes it key for India to acquire it, she said.