Hypersonic Rocket Engine Passes Testing Milestone

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption Mark Thomas

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Mark Thomas"We subjected the technology to the temperature'threat of high speed

Mach 1 is the sound barrier, or 343 metres per second.

Heat has been the top concern when engineers consider the speed of aircraft.

Reaction Engines, based in Oxfordshire, has successfully tested the new technology at the simulated speed.

A revolutionary 'air breathing' space plane could one day blast passengers from London to NY in less than an hour, after it passed a key hurdle this week.

Testing of the precooler took place in Colorado, but after securing more than £100 million in public and private funding-including investments from BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, and Boeing HorizonX-Reaction Engines is finishing construction of a test site in Westcott, Buckinghamshire in the United Kingdom where it will begin testing the SABRE Engine core.

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Reaction wants to build a reusable vehicle combing the speed and power of a rocket with the efficiency of a jet engine, capable of traveling at 25 times the speed of sound and into and out of space.

From take-off to Mach 5.5, the Sabre would draw oxygen from the atmosphere where it would be ignited in a rocket combustion chamber alongside stored liquid hydrogen.

Reaction Engines' milestone is the result of twenty years' work by the company's founders Alan Bond, Richard Varvill and John Scott, the Financial Times' reported. In supersonic and hypersonic flight, air reaching the engine intake gets extremely hot, and an engine that can't manage that heat is going to fail in spectacular fashion. That excess heat is then dumped into useful places, including the final stages of the engine core in a way roughly similar to an afterburner on a military jet engine.

But with Reaction Engine's breakthrough with the pre-cooler, the jut can reach Mach 3.3.

Carrying out the tests at a centre in Colorado, Reaction used a General Electric J79 turbojet engine to replicate the conditions for hypersonic speeds. In its next test, Reaction Engines plans to subject the HTX to air at 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit (1,000 degrees Celsius). It could be years before you can hop a hypersonic flight to another continent.

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