BAE Systems has invested a large amount of moolah into a British firm that is developing a new hybrid rocket jet engine, which can bring future travel time from London to Sydney down to only 4 hours.
Reaction Engines has been developing the turbine that combines rocket and jet engines for some time. The revolutionary technology can take off from a plane runway, accelerate to 5 times the speed of sound, then switching into rocket mode and propelling up into orbit.
The new revolutionary engine design can also be used to send satellites into orbit at a fraction of the costs of the current procedure today. Currently, rockets carry liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen to power them, and the cost is expensive.
The new engine actually creates its own liquid oxygen, cooling air entering the engine from 1000C to -150C in only a hundredth of a second. That is 6 times faster than a blink of an eye. This in turn allows the engine to run safer and at higher power than is currently possible, removing the risk of overheating and breaking apart.
The design is known as SABRE (Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine), and uses a system of pipes full of helium, and as air passes through these pipes the helium removes heat and passes the oxygen through to the engine.
Nigel Whitehead, a BAE managing director, said: ‘Our partnership with Reaction Engines is part of our sustained commitment to investing in and developing prospective emerging technologies.’