The jet age made a huge impact on our planet, making much of it accessible in a single day’s worth of travel. Compared to other modes of transportation, air travel powered by jet engines took more people to more places, faster and less expensive than ever. Now, a UK company has new technology that could provide the propulsion needed to put a plane in orbit and open a new era in travel.
Reaction Engines Ltd (REL) is a company in the United Kingdom formed to develop the technology needed to make an engine that can operate at up to five times the speed of sound or fly directly into Earth orbit.
“We have made the biggest breakthrough in propulsion technology since the jet engine,” said REL chief executive Tim Hayter in a CNN report.
Developing ultra-lightweight heat exchangers, capable of putting a plane into a high altitude cruise, REL promises flight to anywhere on the planet in no more than four hours.
If any of this sounds familiar, it is. In the 2008 article “Reaction Engines’ A2 supersonic jet: Europe to Australia at 4,000 mph,” Gadling reported on REL’s claim that they “could one day shuttle passengers from Europe to Down Under in less than five hours, cruising at up to 4,000 miles-per-hour along the way.”
The history behind this new technology goes back much further though. REL has been working on it since 1989. REL company founder and chief engineer Alan Bond has devoted his entire life to the effort, starting by blasting off rockets from his back yard as a young boy, as we see in this video:
[Photo credit- Flickr user agent_shir]