The Skylon project is a concept aircraft designed to travel to outer space. Although the project is still in the works, the U.K. government and BAE Systems have already invested on its jet propulsion system known as Sabre engines.
The United Kingdom has invested on a next generation engine that will allow affordable space travels possible. The Sabre engine designed by Reaction Engines is a jet propulsion system as well as a hybrid rocket that theoretically allows Earth-to-space voyages in less than four hours. Also, the hybrid aircraft will be designed for commercial use. Which means, people can now travel to space anytime they want. In addition, the hybrid engines will cut the expenses to almost half the price when launching satellites from Earth's atmosphere.
Although this cutting-edge spectacle is more or less a decade away from reality, the U.K. is not alone on its investments. Alongside is BAE Systems that will work hand in hand with Reaction Engines in building the Skylon. Also, BAE will be purchasing 20% of Reaction Engines' shares for a £20.6 million investment.
Both companies will form an alliance in building the hybrid space shuttle. BAE will utilize its aerospace expertise on the Skylon aerodynamics while incorporating its technology with Reaction Engines, such that capital resources and its critical technology progress towards a ground-based hybrid engine demonstration.
Granting that the systems are not yet ready by all means and is still in the works, current projections estimate a full engine test by 2020. Also, autonomous test flights will be conducted in 2030.
The Sabre engines intended for the Skylon depends on its ability to cool incoming airflow from 1,000 degrees centigrade to negative 150 in an instant. The method doubles a common jet engine's technical limits, enabling the spacecraft to reach Earth's atmosphere with extreme velocity, like breaking sound barriers with its speed, before the rocket engines fire up as it reaches space's orbit.
The Skylon project reflects the power of British technology and engineering and its ambitions of space travel. Also, this future event will help create jobs in U.K.'s space division and will be an important landmark on affordable space travels not only to British countries but also to the world as well.