Flights to Australia from the UK could become just a four-hour journey in the near future, thanks to a new engine that’s currently being developed.
Meanwhile, a flight between the UK and New York could become a one-hour journey.
UK-based firm Reaction Engines has been working on a Synergetic Air Breathing Rocket Engine (SABRE), which could propel an aircraft to Mach 5.4.
Basically, that’s the equivalent of five times the speed of sound.
The idea is that a SABRE engine will be able to deliver the fuel efficiency of a jet engine, with the power and high speed abilities of a rocket.
While it might sound like something out of a sci-fi film, it could actually take place in the near future.
That’s because the technology is already in the works, and experts reckon it could be launching in the 2030s.
Graham Turnock, CEO of UK Space Agency, said at the UK Space Conference: “When we have brought the SABRE rocket engine to fruition, that may enable us to get to Australia in perhaps as little as four hours.”
Of course in terms of using these hypersonic jets for commercial flights, the process could take much longer.
The main road block comes in reaching those kinds of speed without overheating the engine and damaging it.
However, Reaction Engines is working on a solution, and its air-breathing rocket engine has already successfully passed a first phase of high-temperature testing.
At the time Mark Thomas, Chief Executive at Reaction Engines, said: “This is a hugely significant milestone which has seen Reaction Engines’ proprietary precooler technology achieve unparalleled heat transfer performance.
“The HTX test article met all test objectives and the successful initial tests highlight how our precooler delivers world-leading heat transfer capabilities at low weight and compact size.
“This provides an important validation of our heat exchanger and thermal management technology portfolio which has application across emerging areas such as very high-speed flight, hybrid electric aviation and integrated vehicle thermal management.”