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Long flights could be annoying for many reasons but not anymore! With the hypersonic engine in development in Britain, air travel time can drop significantly. It is touted that air travel time from London to Sydney will be just four hours with the hypersonic planes. It might sound something from a sci-fi movie, but it is a new tech that can redefine the future of air travel.
Well, British firm Reaction Engines is working on a new engine, which can propel an aircraft to Mach 5.4, which is over twice the speed of Mach 25 in space and five times the speed of sound. This means that the engine can propel an aircraft at a top speed of around 4,143 miles her hour.
At the UK Space Conference 2019, the UK Space Agency announced that it will be working closely with the Australian Space Agency in an agreement called “world-first Space Bridge”. The SABRE (Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine) from Reaction Engines is the one to bring this to reality. Dr. Graham Turnock of the UK Space Agency said, “When we have brought the Sabre rocket engine to fruition, that may enable us to get to Australia in perhaps as little as four hours.” It is believed that the service will be operational in the 2030s.
Successful precooler testing
Back in April this year, Reaction Engines tested the precooler, simulating conditions at Mach 3.3 or over three times the speed of sound. This is over 50% faster than the Concorde’s cruising speed, which takes 3.5 hours to commute between New York and Paris. The precooler test was conducted at a testing facility at the Colorado Air and Space Port in the US.
At high speeds, air flowing via the engine can reach high temperatures and potentially cause damage. In such situations, a precooler reduces the temperature of gases before the same enters the core engine. It has been proven that the component can cool gases from 1000-degree Celsius to less than 1/20th of a second.
Enables hybrid electric aviation
This technology can be used in hybrid electric aviation and flights that commute at incredibly high speeds. “This is a hugely significant milestone which has seen Reaction Engines’ proprietary precooler technology achieve unparalleled heat transfer performance,” said Mark Thomas, Reaction Engines’ CEO.
The SABRE engine is designed to reach high speeds more than Mach 5 in the Earth’s atmosphere and turn into a rocket to fly across space. It can breathe air from the atmosphere enabling greater fuel efficiency as well as lower weight than existing rocket engines that have to carry their own oxygen supply.
Backed by big players
Reaction Engines has received over £100 million (nearly €112 million) funding over the past four years. It has also secured investment from big players in the industry including Boeing HorizonX, Rolls-Royce, and BAE Systems. Furthermore, the company is finalising the construction of a test facility in Buckinghamshire, where the first ground-based demonstration of a SABRE engine will be tested.
Main image picture credits: Reaction Engines
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