Hypersonic Air Travel Just Took a Step Closer To Reality

By: | April 26th, 2019

Image courtesy Reaction Engines

Sixteen years after the Concorde supersonic airliner took its last flight in 2003; few companies are still working on creating a new generation of airliners capable of flying faster than the speed of sound, also known as Mach 1 which is 717 miles/hour.

With a maximum speed over twice the speed of sound at Mach 2.04, Concorde was a plane ahead of its time but it had two major problems. It was not economical at all and it was limited to trans-Atlantic flights only since the sonic boom it produced was such a nuisance that it could fly over water only.

Some companies like Boom and Aerion are working toward hypersonic aircraft, capable of flying above Mach 5 or about 3,800 miles/hour.

Hypersonic plane can reach London from New York in an hour

At this speed, a hypersonic aircraft would take just one hour to cover a distance of 3,459 miles from London to New York City. But the air temperatures inside an engine can reach 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit at Mach 5 which is enough to melt metal.

However the successful testing of a rocket engine-cooling technology is going to bring the dream of breaking the sound barrier a step closer to reality soon.

Recently, a UK-based firm Reaction Engines successfully tested its Synergetic Air Breathing Rocket Engine (SABRE).  This engine cooling technology could clear the way to build rocket engines that could help aircraft reach Mach 5 or higher.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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