A British company’s air-breathing rocket engines have passed the European Space Agency’s initial safety tests, meaning that Hypersonic travel will soon be possible.
Reaction Engines has designed a new engine style that enables the engine to “breathe air“. Essentially allowing an aircraft to move at speeds roughly five times the speed of sound, and making travel from one destination to another within 4 hours time possible.
The company spent over 20 years developing the Reaction SABRE (Synthetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine), that can operate in two modes: “air-breathing” and “rocket“. The dual system is being described a major breakthrough in propulsion systems worldwide.
The “air-breathing” mode allows vehicles equipped with the engine to significantly lighten their load of the on-board oxidant (like liquid oxygen for example). The oxidants are usually used to keep most conventional rocket engines going, but the SABRE’s air-breathing system makes it so vehicles can suck in atmospheric air as a source of oxygen akin to a jet engine. Then the engine switches to rocket mode above the atmosphere. According to Reaction, the transformation:
“removes the necessity for massive throw-away first stages that are jettisoned once the oxidant they contain has been used up, allowing the development of the first fully re-usable space access vehicles such as Skylon.”
After heavy evaluations by the European Space Agency, the engine has been given the thumbs-up. The technology could revolutionize the future of air travel all together, but for now future testing awaits the remarkable engine.
Would you be interested in taking one of the first hypersonic space flights?