London to Sydney in four hours?

The UK Space Agency (UKSA) is working with the Australian Space Agency on a project that could cut travel time by up to 80 per cent.

The agencies recently announced that they will be working on the world’s first “Space Bridge”.

“This latest agreement builds on a number of recent international agreements that are positioning Australia to play an increasingly important role in the global space industry,” said head of the Australian Space Agency Dr Megan Clark.

“The Space Bridge will open up new opportunities for Australian space businesses to access the global space sector through future trade agreements. This is an important step in the Agency’s goal to transform and grow the Australian space industry.”

Part of this alliance is the creation of Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine (SABRE) technology, which could “enable us to get to Australia in perhaps as little as four hours” said UKSA head Graham Turnock.

“This is technology that could definitely deliver that. We’re talking the 2030s for operational service, and the work is already very advanced.”

Reaction Engines is the company responsible for this new technology. Shaun Driscoll, programs director of Reaction Engines, explains the technology further.

“The main thing with Sabre is it’s like a hybrid of a rocket engine and an aero engine, so it allows a rocket to breathe air,” he said.

“Most rockets are vertically launched, and if you look at spacecraft you have a tiny satellite at the top and a huge massive rocket, because just carrying fuel means you need more fuel so it’s a horrible cycle.

“Rockets really haven’t progressed in 70 years, whereas aero engines have become very efficient, so if you can combine an aero engine and a rocket you can have a very lightweight efficient propulsion system and basically create a space plane.”

SABRE technology could make it possible to propel a plane at mach 5.4, which is more than twice the speed of the Concorde and would be the next step in supersonic flight since Concorde stopped flying in 2003. The special engine could also allow the aircraft to convert to a rocket that could fly through space at mach 25.

How often would you visit the UK if you could do it in four hours?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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