Reaction Pre-cooled Engines could deliver reusable hypersonic planes by 2025

Reaction Engines of the UK could be part of a winning group of bidders for open-ended hypersonic weapons development.

They have proven an innovative pre-cooling system which does not require the development of new materials to handle the heat of hypersonic flight speeds.

The US Air Force Research Labs are already working with them. They would need to partner with US companies like Lockheed or Boeing to get the big military contract.

The pre-coolers are made from thousands of thin-walled tubes to provide high surface area to low weight. Each tube is joined to an inlet and outlet manifold, which allows coolant to be injected and removed for the cooling process. We’re the only people in the world with the heat exchanger manufacturing experience to bond thousands of joints in a single operation, and achieve zero leakage. The joints in our pre-cooler modules are hermetically sealed, meaning that the gas which escapes can be measured by the molecule.

SABRE engines allow aircraft to fly much faster than traditional jet engines.– they can be used for efficient air travel at over five times the speed of sound. Unlike jet engines, they can also operate in a rocket mode outside the atmosphere, allowing the next generation of truly reusable space launch vehicles. SABRE powered vehicles will be capable of cutting the flight time from London to Australia to four and a half hours, or flying into orbit from a runway before returning to base and doing it all over again.

The Fast Track to Flight Vehicles

Another way in which SABRE is unique as a high-speed propulsion system is that most development testing can be done on the ground. This fact enables a much faster, more affordable and less risky journey towards achieving operational high-speed vehicles. Following the ground testing programme, flight testing will be used to validate many key airframe and engine integration technologies while we work with our partners to finalise the design of the first operational SABRE powered vehicle.

Hypersonic Mission Applications

SABRE is capable of achieving air-breathing flight from Mach 0 to Mach 5+ as a single propulsion installation and is well suited for a variety of potential high-speed mission areas. SABRE enables more capable high-speed vehicles able to operate within and between expansive and unique flight envelopes, which improves many critical mission characteristics. SABRE’s rocket mode adds the additional flexibility to increase thrust or transition to sub-orbital flight regimes on demand.

Space Access

More capable space access systems are achievable through the high efficiency of the SABRE engine and the elimination of the need to carry on-board oxidizer during air-breathing flight segments.

Hypersonic Transport

SABRE will make the world smaller through high-speed point-to-point transport. To demonstrate the uses for SABRE in Mach 5 cruise applications, Reaction Engines engaged in a 50% EU-funded project as part of Framework 6, called LAPCAT — Long-term Advanced Propulsion Concepts and Technologies. This study examined the technologies required to reduce long-distance flights, e.g. From Brussels to Sydney, to just over 4 hours while cruising at Mach 5.

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