Flights on Earth and beyond are about to get really fast. UK company Reaction Engines just signed a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop their revolutionary SABRE engine, which uses cutting-edge technology to speed up travel. The 10 million Euro ($11 million) deal could not only help change the way astronauts reach space, but could also transform the way we get from place to place on our own planet.
SABRE, which stands for Synergistic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine, utilizes “atmospheric air” to propel it at first before switching to “rocket mode” to reach space. According to the ESA, “The end result of this made-in-Europe technology would be low-cost, reliable, and reusable engines, potentially enabling future vehicles that could perform the equivalent job of today’s rockets while operating like an aircraft – revolutionizing access to space.”
SABRE would also allow aircrafts on Earth to jet around at five times the speed of sound. According to Reaction Engines, that means a trip from Brussels to Sydney with 300 passengers would take only 4.6 hours instead of 21.
The new ESA funding will allow Reaction Engines to continue developing a “ground demonstrator” SABRE engine, which they hope to have ready by the close of this decade. Reaction Engines CEO Mark Thomas said in a press release, “We’ve had valuable support from ESA and UKSA to date, and today’s agreement is a further vote of confidence not only in the revolutionary potential of this technology, but our ability to deliver it. We are now entering an exciting phase where we can accelerate the pace of development to get SABRE up and running.”
In total, Reaction Engines received 60 million pounds of grant funding from the British government (that’s close to $80 million). Money came from ESA and the UK Space Agency. UK Space Agency Acting CEO Katherine Courtney said, “We want the UK to be the best place in Europe to innovate and the SABRE engine program has the potential to change air and space travel forever.”
Images via Reaction Engines