Air-breathing engine precooler achieves record-breaking Mach 5 performance
by Staff Writers
Paris (ESA) Oct 28, 2019
UK company Reaction Engines has tested its innovative precooler at airflow temperature conditions equivalent to Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound. This achievement marks a significant milestone in its ESA-supported development of the air-breathing SABRE engine, paving the way for a revolution in space access and hypersonic flight.
The precooler heat exchanger is an essential SABRE element that cools the hot airstream generated by air entering the engine intake at hypersonic speed.
"This is not only an excellent achievement in its own right but one important step closer to demonstrating the feasibility of the entire SABRE engine concept," said Mark Ford, heading ESA's Propulsion Engineering section.
The Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine (SABRE) is uniquely designed to scoop up atmospheric air during the initial part of its ascent to space at up to five times the speed of sound. At about 25 km it would then switch to pure rocket mode for its final climb to orbit.
In future SABRE could serve as the basis of a reusable launch vehicle that operates like an aircraft. Because the initial flight to Mach 5 uses the atmospheric air as one propellant it would carry much less heavy liquid oxygen on board. Such a system could deliver the same payload to orbit with a vehicle half the mass of current launchers, potentially offering a large reduction in cost and a higher launch rate.
Reaction Engines constructed the precooler test item in the UK, then shipped it to its specially constructed facility at the Colorado Air and Space Port in the US for its test campaign.
This ground-based test achieved the highest temperature objective of the company's 'HTX' hot heat exchanger test programme: it successfully quenched airflow temperatures in excess of 1000 C in less than 1/20th of a second.
The tests demonstrated the precooler's ability to cool airflow at speeds significantly in excess of the operational limit of any jet-engine powered aircraft in history. Mach 5 is more than twice as fast as the cruising speed of Concorde and over 50% faster than the SR-71 Blackbird aircraft - the world's fastest jet-engine powered aircraft.
This most recent test builds upon the success of previous HTX hot tests undertaken in April which saw the precooler successfully operate at temperatures of 420C - matching the thermal conditions corresponding to Mach 3.3 flight.
ESA, via the UK Space Agency, has invested 10 million euros in SABRE development, together with 50 million pounds (58 million euro) from UKSA. ESA also performs a technical oversight role on behalf of UKSA. In March, the two agencies reviewed and validated the preliminary design of the demonstrator engine core of SABRE, which Reaction Engines will use to undertake ground-based testing at its under-construction TF1 test facility at Westcott, Buckinghamshire, UK.
Reaction Engines co-founder and current Chief Technology Officer Richard Varvill emphasised that this achievement was the culmination of more than 30 years of effort: "This is a momentous landmark for Reaction Engines in the development of its SABRE engine, which has the potential to revolutionise both access to space and high-speed flight by powering aircraft to five times the speed of sound.
DLR and Swedish Space Corporation combine expertise for engine tests
Berlin, Germany (SPX) Oct 25, 2019
A new test stand for the next generation of sounding rockets, microlaunchers and reusable launchers will be constructed at the Swedish Esrange Space Center. The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to develop this test stand at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) on 22 October 2019. Further topics of the cooperation will be the exchange of expertise and intensified collaborat ... read more
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.|