Here at Recombu cars we tend to stick to four-wheeled machines, but sometimes we have to break the rules for really exciting and ludicrously fast modes of transport like the Skylon plane.
The extremely aerodynamic aircraft is said to be so fast it could take you anywhere you want on the planet in four hours at most, making a weekend trip to Australia entirely possible. The 276-feet long aircraft will even be able to orbit the planet and could be used to launch satellites.
This extreme speed is down to Reaction Engine’ SABRE revolutionary powerplant, which is short for Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine. The engine has been put through its paces 100 times but only now has the European Space Agency given Skylon testing the green light.
Without going into rocket science, a precooler cools the air going into the engine by 1,000 degrees Celsius in just a hundredth of a second, allowing it to cope with more heat and therefore generate much higher power outputs than conventional engines. There’s also less need to store air, saving weight.
At full tilt the Skylon can reach a staggering Mach 5 – five times the speed of sound. Mach 1 is 330 metres per second or 738mph (technically the speed of sound varies but we’ll ignore that for a second), so in essence you’re looking at a plane capable of 3,700mph. Mental.
There is a plan to make a passenger version known as the Lapcat A2, which would be able to carry up to 300 people. Fans of the mighty Concorde, which spent its days flying over the Atlantic Ocean at Mach 2 before it was retired on April 10th 2003, will be most pleased.
There are some minor catches to consider before you pack your suitcase and head for the nearest airport. Reports say the Skylon will cost £1.1 billion, which is a lot for those used to QueasyJet. But the company reckons it could cut the cost of space launches by 95 per cent, making it actually good value.
There’s also the fact test flights will begin in 2019, making the commercial aspect a long way off. Not so long, though, that you never get to break the sound barrier and possibly see air travel revolutionised by that clever SABRE engine.
Pictures of the Skylon and a video of the SABRE engine awaits.