New Rocket Engine To Transport People From UK To Australia In Four Hours
Travelling to Australia from pretty much anywhere in the northern hemisphere is a notoriously tedious journey. It usually takes more than 20 hours to get you from A to B, and often involves a layover - you know, just to make sure things are as drawn-out as possible.
But now that is set to change, as experts say hypersonic passenger jets are the future of travel, and could take people from London to Sydney in just four hours.
British firm Reaction Engines is working on a new engine that would propel an aircraft to Mach 5.4, which is around five times the speed of sound and more than twice the speed of Concorde.
That means it could reach a top speed of around 4,143mph.
Dr Graham Turnock of the UK Space Agency said: "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."
He added: "This is not sci-fi. This is not a pipe dream. This is literally in the works.
"It has the potential to turn air travel on its head.
"Certainly the way you conceive air travel will completely change in ten years' time."
The engines could even be as operational as early as the 2030s, experts say.
Will Whitehorn, from trade body UK Space, said: "It would not only allow you to fly around the world hypersonically, and take people from London to Australia outside the atmosphere and have far less long term effect on the atmosphere but it will also allow you to rapidly get much more technology into space."
One of the main problems with high speed air travel is the potential for melting, as such fast propulsion requires very high temperatures.
However, the SABRE (Synergetic Air Breathing Rocket Engine) uses liquid gases like helium, which are able to cool incoming air from 1,000°C to -150°C in one hundredth of a second.
The engine will also be powered by hydrogen, which is an eco-friendly fuel that produces water vapour when it burns.
The Reaction Engines website says: "SABRE engines are unique in delivering the fuel efficiency of a jet engine with the power and high speed ability of a rocket.
"Unlike jet engines, which are only capable of powering a vehicle up to Mach 3, three times the speed of sound, SABRE engines are capable of Mach 5.4 in air-breathing mode, and Mach 25 in rocket mode for space flight. They are simply going to revolutionise the way we travel around the globe, and into orbit.
"Like jet engines, SABRE can be scaled in size to provide different levels of thrust for different applications which is crucial to our success - it's going to enable a whole generation of air and space vehicles."
Speaking at the UK Space Conference in Newport, South Wales, Shaun Driscoll, of Reaction Engines, said: "The main thing with Sabre is it's like a hybrid of a rocket engine and an aero engine, so it allows a rocket to breathe air... rockets really haven't progressed in 70 years, whereas aero engines have become very efficient.
"So, if you can combine an aero engine and a rocket you can have a very lightweight efficient propulsion system and basically create a space plane. The physics checks out but the challenge is building a test regime."
Featured Image Credit: Reaction Engines