facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

Britain to develop engine to take spaceplane into orbit

July 16, 2013 at 6:11 PM   |   Comments

OXFORD, England, July 16 (UPI) -- The British government says it plans to invest $90 million in the development of an air-breathing rocket engine intended for a single-stage-to-orbit spaceplane.

The announcement comes after feasibility testing of essential technology conducted by the European Space Agency. The investment, through the United Kingdom Space Agency, will back technical improvements leading to construction of a prototype Synergistic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine, or SABRE, an ESA release said Tuesday.

Designed by British firm Reaction Engines Ltd, SABRE is designed to use atmospheric air in the early part of the flight before switching to rocket mode for the final ascent to orbit.

SABRE is intended to power a 275-foot-long pilot-less vehicle dubbed Skylon, performing the same orbital tasks as today's rockets while operating like an airplane.

The British investment decision follow the success of ESA-managed tests of a key element of the SABRE design, a precooler to chill the hot air entering the engine at hypersonic speed.

"The idea has been around since the 1950s but this is the first time anyone has managed to achieve a working system," Mark Ford, head of ESA's propulsion section, said. "Nobody else has this technology, so Europe has a real technological lead here."

© 2013 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
Physicists teleport photon over 15 miles Physicists teleport photon over 15 miles
3
Major palm oil companies to halt deforestation Major palm oil companies to halt deforestation
4
Latest Ebola outbreak spreading much faster than in the past Latest Ebola outbreak spreading much faster than in the past
5
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
Trending News
Video
x
Feedback