The competition heats up: Reaction Engines, the British company developing a hybrid air-breathing rocket engine, today received obtained a significant funding boost from a new private partner as well as the British government.
The government has committed $60 million, while BAE has purchased 20% of the company with a commitment of an additional $20 million.
The craft Reaction Engines intends to eventually produce, known as Skylon, depends on the ability to cool an incoming airstream from 1,000 degrees C to minus 150 C almost instantly, at close to 1/100th of a second. That process doubles the technical limits of a jet engine, and would enable the craft to reach extremely fast speeds in Earth’s atmosphere, up to give times the speed of sound, before switching to a rocket engine to reach orbit.
Don’t start buying tickets however. They don’t expect to begin manned test flights for at least a decade