A British hypersonic, air-breathing rocket engine with the potential to fly aircraft and space vehicles at Mach 5 speed has been successfully tested at the Colorado Air and Space Port outside of Denver.
The precooler heat exchanger element of Reaction Engines’s Sabre (synergetic air-breathing rocket engine) ran at the equivalent of five times the speed of sound. The precooler heat exchanger is the vital component that stops the engine from overheating at high flight speeds.
This rocket engine could be a game-changer. Reaction Engines and its backers are targeting hypersonic combat jets, civil aircraft, reusable space vehicles and other platforms as potential applications for this engine.
Reaction Engines has attracted development funds from the British government, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the European Space Agency.
This rocket engine has made aircraft advancement history. The test showed the pre-cooler’s ability to cool airflow at speeds significantly in excess of the operational limit of a jet engine-powered aircraft. The heat exchanger performed its precooler function by quenching about 1,800-degree Fahrenheit temperatures in less than one-twentieth of a second.
This successful test opens the door for a trial of a full Sabre core engine within the next year to eighteen months, as well as allowing existing combat jets to adapt precooler technology.