The biggest recent headlines in aerospace have focused greatly on new materials like carbon fiber, as well as part production methods that involve exciting technologies like 3D printing, but there’s another factor that determines how fast and efficiently we can travel through the sky. It is, however, still catching up to higher ideals in air and space flight.
If we want to reach new heights and new speeds in the future, then we need newer, better, and more powerful rocket engines that take us further and faster for less. The future of flight will require a mastery of hypersonic propulsion, and a breakthrough aerospace engine technology from Reaction Engines, along with a series investment from BAE, may have gotten us closer to it.
Image Source: CNN
Supersonic Flights On Earth, Orbital Velocity Into Space
Reaction Engines is a UK-based engineering firm that is set to partner with BAE Systems in the development of an exciting new technology. The aerospace giant has announced its interest in collaborating on Reaction Engines’ SABRE. SABRE, or Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine, may soon make it possible to power aircraft at five times the speed of sound, and may even allow for the development of reusable space planes that take off from the Earth’s surface like a jet, travel beyond our atmosphere at orbital velocity, and return to land and do it all over again.
Image Source: CNN
A Revolution In Jet Propulsion
SABRE is essentially an air-breathing engine that uses extremely lightweight heat exchanges to cool incredibly hot air streams. This technology allows the engine to reduce incoming air temperatures of 1,000 degrees C down to -150 degrees C in under 1/100th of a second.
Frost control technology then prevents the heat exchanges from becoming blocked with ice during this process, while a thermal energy absorbing heat exchanger system means more efficient use of fuel at supersonic speeds. The engine can potentially be installed into standard jet engine pods, which means this ultra fast means of propulsion could make one of your future flights much faster. You may even be able to travel from coast to coast on your lunch break or cross an ocean or two in just a few hours.
While that type of travel time probably won’t be commonplace for another ten to fifteen years, BAE’s new partnership with Reaction Engines could mean a major stride in making the SABRE system a reality for many applications and new ventures. Could it be the revolutionary aerospace technology we’ve been waiting for?