Monday, November 2, 2015

The world just got closer to a 'hypersonic space plane' that will transform 'the economics of space'


Reaction Engines, one of the brightest prospects in European space plane technology, has big news Monday morning. 
BAE Systems, the globetrotting defence and aeronautics giant, just bought 20% of the firm, and it's making a major investment in Reaction Engines' most promising ideas.
The idea is an unpiloted and reusable hypersonic space plane. It's called Sabre. Here's how Reaction Engines describes it:

A new aerospace engine class that combines both jet and rocket technologies with the potential to revolutionise hypersonic flight and the economics of space access ... 
This new class of aerospace engine is designed to enable aircraft to operate from standstill on the runway to speeds of over five times the speed of sound in the atmosphere. SABRE can then transition to a rocket mode of operation, allowing spaceflight at speeds up to orbital velocity, equivalent to twenty five times the speed of sound. Reaction Engines' technology has undergone extensive independent technical assessments which have confirmed its viability and potential vehicle applications.
According to a press release from the Oxfordshire-based Reaction Engines, BAE has bought 20% of the company and invested £20.6 million ($31.79 million). Reaction Engines is expecting another £60 million ($92.60 million) in the form of a government grant.
Here's what Reaction Engines expects the plane to look like: