facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

Engine for British spaceplane tested

Nov. 29, 2012 at 7:23 PM   |   Comments

CULHAM, England, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- A British company developing an engine for a new type of spaceplane says it has successfully tested a key technology of the engine.

Reaction Engines Ltd. conducted a series of tests on key elements of its Sabre propulsion system, intended to power a spaceplane that would reach Earth orbit like a rocket but operate like an airliner, taking off and landing on a conventional runway.

The Skylon vehicle is designed to burn a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen, taking in oxygen the way a conventional jetliner does while still in the atmosphere. Skylon would switch to burning onboard supplies of rocket fuel once it attains very high speeds.

While in Earth's atmosphere the Sabre engine will have to manage the extremely hot air entering its intakes at high speed, cooling it before it is compressed and ignited with the onboard hydrogen fuel.

The solution by REL engineers involves an array extremely fine piping that can extract the heat and cool the incoming air to minus 220 degrees Fahrenheit in 1/100th of a second. The cooling technology was successfully tested under the watchful eyes of the European Space Agency, the BBC reported Wednesday.

The United Kingdom Space Agency had asked ESA's propulsion division to audit the tests, which the ESA said were successful.

"With this now successfully demonstrated by REL, there are currently no technical reasons why the Sabre engine program cannot move forward into the next stage of development," the ESA said.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Most Popular
1
Android phones to join iPhone in saying no to the police Android phones to join iPhone in saying no to the police
2
Perth's first iPhone buyer immediately drops brand new phone on live TV Perth's first iPhone buyer immediately drops brand new phone on live TV
3
Dogs are the favorite food of leopards in rural India Dogs are the favorite food of leopards in rural India
4
Only 5 billion years until Andromeda Galaxy eats Milky Way Only 5 billion years until Andromeda Galaxy eats Milky Way
5
Tuna fishermen are not happy about proposed marine sanctuary Tuna fishermen are not happy about proposed marine sanctuary
Trending News
Video
x
Feedback