The flight time between London and New York could cut to under an hour
The hypersonic jet which travels across the Atlantic has moved a step closer after scientists discovered a way to stop engines from melting when they travel at 25 times the speed of sound.
Specialists at Reaction Engines says they have created a ‘pre-cooler’ which works at a simulated speed of 3.3 mach or 2500 mph (4,023 kph) – meaning hypersonic travel could be on the horizon.
The ‘pre-cooler’, which lets the aircraft travel at high speed without hot air rushing in and causing the engine to melt was tested at simulated speeds of more than three times the speed of sound.
The next stage of testing will attempt to see if the Synergetic Air-breathing rocket engine can withstand the speed of Mach 5.5 (4,200 mph) – a level of speed which could cut flight time between London and New York to under an hour.
Reaction Engines, based in Oxfordshire, built a testing facility on the ground in Colorado and used a General Electric J79 turbojet engine to replicate the conditions that the vehicle will experience at hypersonic speeds.
The Reaction Engines chief executive, Mark Thomas said, “If you can pull it off, it’s a game changer. It kicks conventional rocket engines into touch”.
Thomas also addressed the speed of Mach 2 which Concorde famously achieved, which he explained “was tolerable, but already the aircraft was getting quite hot”.
Earlier this month, Swiss financial services firm UBS has predicted Elon Musk’s Space X Starship could see the passengers fly across the Atlantic in just 29 minutes.
If they’re right, it would also take less than an hour to get to Sydney from the UK.
Analysts Jarrod Castle and Myles Walton told the Mail: “Although some might view the potential to use space to service the long-haul travel market as science fiction, we think there is a large market.
“While space tourism is still at a nascent phase, we think that as technology becomes proven, and the cost falls due to technology and competition, space tourism will become more mainstream.”
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