Tokyo’s efforts to develop hypersonic aircraft and weapons reached a milestone Sunday, when the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully conducted its first combustion flight test using a device designed to gather critical data for the development of a scramjet engine.

The device was carried in the nose of a test rocket launched into space at 5 a.m. from JAXA’s Uchinoura Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture. The 9.15-meter-long S-520-RD1 rocket released the device about 3½ minutes into the launch at an altitude of 168 kilometers. The combustion test was conducted for about six seconds at an altitude of approximately 30 km as the device was returning to Earth.

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