Would you like to complete an intercontinental journey, such as from North America to Australia, just within a couple of hours or go for a space journey to experience the feel of zero gravity with some spectacular planetary and galactic views? Well, the day may not be too far away, if Reaction Engines comes up with its ambitious ‘Skylon’ - mach 5 spaceplane.
The British engineers are working on this project to take the Skylon spaceplane into the orbit. Mostly it would operate like a normal airplane, like taking off and landing using conventional runways, but the major difference is in powering this aircraft. It will be powered by a Sabre engine, specially designed for its purpose. It will be working like a normal jet engine in the lower attitude, breathing in oxygen and when in higher altitude of outer space it will act as a rocket engine. So its part jet engine and part rocket engine. The prototype has just made its way through the drawing table and engineers have started to give it a real shape, but still some experts are not fully sure that new concept will be functioning in the real world or not.
Reaction Engines limited (REL), one of the key partners of this project say that the new engine will soon prove its readiness, as rigorous tests are underway. It uses a combination fuel, using hydrogen and oxygen mixture. But the interesting fact here is that in the lower atmosphere it collects necessary oxygen from the atmosphere. One of the most formidable challenges in front of the engineers is to keep the gas entering into its engine from getting super heated, which can reach up to an outstanding 1000 degrees, at super high speed. But the plan is to cool down the hot gases by passing it through a super cooled array of pipes. These arrays of pipes will cool down the hot gases to minus 140 degrees, within a fraction of a second. It’s yet not predictable that when in the future these planes will start operating, until then we’ll have to stay fingers crossed.