This week, the space agencies of Australia and the United Kingdom unveiled an ambitious project consisting of the joint development of a “supersonic space plane“, which, they say, would be able to transport passengers from Sydney to London in just four hours, and that they hope is ready for the 2030s.
As explained agencies, this project, referred to as the “first space bridge in the world”, would be based on a new hypersonic engine would be powered by hydrogen and oxygen, which would allow the aircraft to move at high speeds.
The key would be in its hypersonic engine powered by hydrogen and oxygen
The information was released during the United Kingdom Space Conference, where the Australian Space Agency (ASA) was invited, which will serve as a partner in this project.
As they explained, the engine that would drive this new aircraft would be manufactured by Reaction Engines, an Oxfordshire company, which currently has developed the concept and is about to manufacture the first prototypes for testing in controlled environments.
This engine is known as ‘Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine’ or ‘SABER’, and according to Graham Turnock, director of the United Kingdom Space Agency, the work is already very advanced, so they aim to have the first operational aircraft in the 2030s , while test flights would arrive “sometime in the next decade.”
According to the explanation, this engine would be a kind of rocket installed inside the plane, which would give the aircraft the ability to take off Mach 5.4, then accelerate to Mach 25 in space. With this, they claim that a flight between Sydney and London would be done in just four hours. By way of comparison, this flight would currently be carried out for just under 18 hours aboard an Airbus A380.
Regarding the latter there are still many doubts, since it was not clarified how the plane would take off and from where, since noise is one of the main problems of supersonic airplanes. On the other hand, it is said that the plane would leave the space during its flight, but no more details were given of this.
And it is that the conference focused more on the development of the engine, so Shaun Driscoll, from Reaction Engines, gave the following details of ‘SABER’:
“The main thing with SABER is that it is like a hybrid of a rocket engine and an aerodynamic engine, so it allows a rocket to breathe air. The rockets have not progressed in 70 years, while aeronautical engines have become very efficient , so if you can combine an aeronautical engine and a rocket you can have a very light efficient propulsion system and basically create a space plane. “
According to Reaction Engines, the hydrogen / oxygen engine used in ‘SABER’ is more “ecological and cheap” than current air transport technology.
As I mentioned, there are still many doubts to be resolved and a long way to go, but in the event that everything they affirm is confirmed, we would be facing one of the greatest aeronautical advances in history.
Via | UK Gov