Fly to Australia...In Four Hours

If you hate flying like I do, then this jet engine technology news will be music to your ears. British aerospace firm Reaction Engines has invented the Skylon plane, which will take you anywhere in four hours. Yes, anywhere in the world — from Britain to Australia or Mexico to China.

This timeframe is enabled by breakthrough technology that allows the Reaction Engines craft to reach five times the speed of sound. The technology lies in the “Sabre” pre-cooling system, which can cool the engine by more than 1000 degrees Celsius in .01 seconds, without creating icy blockages. This cooling system uses thin pipes filled with condensed helium and arranged in a “swirl” pattern.

Though the company hopes to eventually build a super speedy plane that can transport 300 passengers and fly like a rocket, the technology isn’t primarily meant for terrestrial travel. Even though the Skylon will transform high-speed aviation, incorporating the "Sabre" engine into a passenger aircraft would require redesigning the engine, and inventors predict that it will only be used for up to 10 percent of flights. Reaction Engines has its sights set much higher — all the way into outer space.

The Skylon can operate at a high enough power to launch into space without overheating, which is the issue for current jet engines. By launching and landing horizontally, the Skylon will be able to fly directly into orbit and back to earth in one smooth phase, rather than using disposable rockets. This breakthrough technology will reduce the cost of space flight and enable far more ambitious space missions than were previously thought possible.

Skylon test flights are currently planned for 2019, so enjoy your normal-speed flights while you can. For more on the Skylon, check out the video below.

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