New Hypersonic Jet Technology
This new technology could cut two 12 hour flights to Sydney right down to 4 and a half hours; not only that, but it will be much greener, posing to be the new standard of flight. Surprisingly, it is also cheaper to run than the planes we have now.
The company, called Reaction Engine, who are based in the UK, are currently creating a new stardard for air travel. This new engine is called SABRE, which stands for 'Synergetic Air Breathing Rocket Engine', and can allow planes and rockets to be pushed to much higher speeds. Essentially, this just means that any long haul flights can be had at much lower length, by just being faster.
The company is mainly focusing on a flight path from London to Sydney, and they estimate that it could cut two 12 hour flights, to just one 4 and half hour flight. Reaction Engines have said that these planes will be able to travel at "over 5 times the speed of sound". If my calculations, and google, is right that should mean that it can travel over 4000MPH, which is just crazy.
Reaction Engines also tell us that, "Unlike jet engines, they can also operate in 'rocket mode' outside the atmosphere, allowing the next generation of truly reusable space launch vehicles."
So much as they have developed, there doesn't seem to really be any downsides, but as with new technologies, a few challenges will have to be faced. Especially aerodynamics that can allow for such drastic speeds, and materials that can handle that stress.
In a twitter video, the company said that "Hypersonic speed is generally classified as travelling faster than five times the speed of sound", which is their aimed for speed. As you would expect, getting these speeds is extremely hard, for the most part, this is due to the great temperatures that the engine will give off.
We have been told that SABRE will work by using small tubes of supercooled (very cold) helium. This will allow it to be able to get a plane to Mach 5.4 (6,400hm/h or 4,000MPH), for commercial planes. This speed is over twice the speed that the Concorde went. Although, let's hope it's a bit more successful.
Amazingly, it will be able to switch to rocket mode, which can enable space travel at Mach 25! That's 30,000kp/h, or 20,000MPH). They announced all of this at the UK Space Conference in Wales.
If London to Sydney goes well, they will take up the challenge to go from London to New York. Claiming a flight time of only 1 hour.
Reaction Engines hope to start some test flight in the middle of 2020, and hope to be running commercial flights by 2030. Right now, they are doing ground trials in Denver, Colorado.