Ever heard of a company called Reaction Engines Ltd? If not, you can bet the name will soon be very familiar, thanks mostly to a revolutionary air-breathing rocket engine that will – in theory, anyway – enable an aircraft to reach the other 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. The Sabre engine employs both jet turbine and rocket technology, featuring an innovative pre-cooler technology designed to cool the incoming airstream from over 1 000 degrees to minus 150 degrees in less than 1/100th of a second (that’s six times faster than the blink of an eye).
Over 100 test runs integrated the ground-breaking flight-weight cooling technology and frost control system with a jet engine and a novel helium cooling loop, demonstrating the new technologies that drive the innovative and efficient thermodynamic cycle. Having evaluated the engine’s heat exchanger, the European Space Agency (ESA) has officially validated the test results.
If all goes according to plan, the engine will be installed in futuristic flying machines such as the Skylon, a new type of reusable space vehicle designed primarily to transport satellites and cargo into space.
Watch an animation showing the features of the SABRE engine and the pre-cooler technology…