Flying anywhere in the world as a commercial passenger may soon take little more than four hours, thanks to a new engine system in development at Reaction Engines Limited.
The British aerospace firm’s SABRE engine uses new technology that cools air entering the system by 1,000 degrees Celsius in .01 seconds, which calculates to an unprecedented rate of 400 megawatts.
If you have less of an interest in the science and numbers, what you really want to know is that the engine is going to revolutionise high-speed aviation, even in commercial air travel.
In the first real-world application of the SABRE engine, a commercial aircraft that Reaction Engines Limited calls LAPCAT A2 will be able to carry 300 passengers, flying anywhere in the world at five times the speed of sound. Brussels to Sydney in under four hours? No problem.
Access to a SABRE cooling engine that could so easily achieve these Mach 5 speeds would also enable huge progress in space innovation. The lab’s SKYLON project looks a lot like a commercial aircraft in visualisations, since it executes both takeoff and landing horizontally, as in the commercial plane we’re used to seeing in airports.
Horizontal landing capabilities make the SKYLON spacecraft versatile, but in every other way the plane is straight out of our space race dreams. The craft is unpiloted and reusable. Once it accelerates to Mach 5, it will be able to “discretely” transform itself into a rocket, enter into orbit to accomplish any outer space mission, and then return safely to Earth.