Hot air passes over the fine piping, plunging to -150C in just 1/100th of a second (credit: Mark Ford et al./Reaction Engines Ltd.) Reaction Engines Ltd.
Reaction Engines Ltd. has announced what is says is the “biggest breakthrough in aerospace propulsion technology since the invention of the jet engine.”
Critical tests have been successfully completed on the key technology for SABRE, an engine that will enable aircraft to reach the opposite side of the world in under four hours, or to fly directly into orbit and return in a single stage, taking off and landing on a runway.
Ultra-lightweight heat exchangers are the key enabling components in SABRE engines for Mach 5 cruise and aircraft-like access to space (credit: Reaction Engines)
SABRE, an air-breathing rocket engine, uses a combination of jet turbine and rocket technology. Its innovative pre-cooler technology is designed to cool the incoming airstream from over 1,000⁰C to minus 150⁰C in less than 1/100th of a second without blocking with frost.
The recent tests have proven the cooling technology to be frost-free at the crucial low temperature of -150⁰C.
The European Space Agency (ESA) has evaluated the SABRE engine’s pre-cooler heat exchanger on behalf of the UK Space Agency, and has given official validation to the test results:
“The pre-cooler test objectives have all been successfully met and ESA are satisfied that the tests demonstrate the technology required for the SABRE engine development.”
This advanced combined cycle air-breathing SABRE rocket engine enables aircraft to operate easily at speeds of up to five times the speed of sound or fly directly into Earth orbit (credit: Reaction Engines)
The U.K. Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts said: “This is a remarkable achievement for a remarkable company.