SABRE Orbital Jet Engine Breakthrough

An aerospace propulsion breakthrough has been announced by Reaction Engines Ltd. to enable orbital jets like the SKYLON spaceplane to take off from a runway, dock with an orbiting satellite and then return.

Alternately, this same technology could lead to planes that can fly to the opposite side of the globe in under 4 hours.

(Reaction Engines video: Allan Bond presents)

SABRE, an air-breathing rocket engine, uses a combination of jet turbine and rocket technology. Its innovative pre-cooler technology is designed to cool the incoming airstream from over 1,000⁰C to minus 150⁰C in less than 1/100th of a second without blocking with frost.

The recent tests have proven the cooling technology to be frost-free at the crucial low temperature of -150⁰C.

The European Space Agency (ESA) has evaluated the SABRE engine’s pre-cooler heat exchanger on behalf of the UK Space Agency, and has given official validation to the test results:

“The pre-cooler test objectives have all been successfully met and ESA are satisfied that the tests demonstrate the technology required for the SABRE engine development.”

Fans of Robert Heinlein recall the shuttle ships from his 1951 novel Between Planets, which had similar capabilities:

A shuttle ship up from the surface could leave any spot on Venus, rendezvous with the ship in orbit, then land on its port of departure or on any other point having expended a theoretical minimum of fuel. As soon as the Nautilus had parked, such shuttles began to swarm up to her. They were more airplane than spaceship, for, although each was sealed and pressurized to operate outside the atmosphere while making contact with orbiting spaceships, each was winged and was powered with ramjet atmosphere engines as well as with rocket jets. Like frogs, they were adapted to two media.
(Read more about Heinlein's shuttle ships)

Update 08-Jun-2016: Take a look at this entry, the first use of the phrase "space shuttle", in Hell Ship of Space (1940) by Frederic Arnold Kummer, Jr.. End update.

From Reaction Engines via Kurzweil AI.

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