American Express Stock – Flying NY To London In 1 Hour? Supersonic Engines In Development To Make It Possible
The race to get commercial rockets into space is well documented, but several companies are working on rockets for ‘domestic’ travel, so that one day it might be feasible to travel from Sydney to London in 4 hours, meaning that visiting Australia could become a day trip.
The UK. government’s Space Agency teamed up with Reaction Engines (a British Aerospace manufacturer) two years ago to develop low-orbit space and hypersonic travel. Reaction Engines is developing a propulsion system called SABRE, which is described as an “air-breathing rocket engine that can propel an aircraft from zero to five times the speed of sound in the atmosphere,” which both organisations believe can redefine travel as we know it.
At its launch in 2019, the UK. Space Agency’s Graham Turner said that “when we have brought the SABRE rocket engine to fruition, that may enable us to get to Australia in perhaps as little as four hours.”
In the two years since, much work has been done, notably to test the pre-cooler–the part of the engine that rapidly cools the incoming air (1,000 °C to ambient), which allows the engine to operate at higher speeds than current engines. As reported by Simple Flying, Reaction’s SABRE pre-cooler now works for speeds of up to Mach 5–much faster than Concorde. The company is also testing the engine core and thrust chambers meaning the company could be on track to meet targets; Turner added, “we’re talking the 2030s for operational service.”
There are also other companies, well-funded, which are pursuing this research. Aerion is based in Colorado and developing the AS2 12 supersonic passenger aircraft, Boom Supersonic (American Express Ventures is a big investor).
The AS3 aims to carry 50 passengers, up to 8,000 miles, as reported by The Telegraph. Partnering with NASA’s Langley Research Center, Aerion is investigating speeds of between Mach 3 and Mach 5–that means speeds of just over 3,800 mph, meaning a theoretical journey time from London to New York in just one hour. The smaller AS2, a sister jet, is further along in development and will go into production in 2023 (20 have already been pre-ordered by NetJets, a private aviation company).
And across the country in Boston, Spike Aerospace is building the Spike S-512 business jet, which is 450 mph faster than any other civilian aircraft and aims to take 12-18 passengers at a time on a jaunty trip, in half the time of commercial airplanes.
Whilst this might sound exciting to some, others are quick to point out the distance from here to there. The industry has been crippled from over a year of closed borders, fierce travel restrictions and the cost of grounded aircraft during the Covid-19 pandemic.
As Simple Flying states, the vast levels of funding in these projects shows the high level of confidence in the potential of supersonic and hypersonic air travel. However, as The Telegraph point out, speed costs money and the low priced aeroplane is never going to be the fast one, meaning that for most people, the norm will still be a 21-hour flight from London to Sydney.