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Windowless Squid Rocket Key To Future Travel?

Posted by Sunday on Feb 24, 2008 at 4:12 pm in Daily Space

Behold Reaction Engine’s A2 hydrogen-powered hypersonic concept jet: also known as what happens when a jetliner, a squid and a lawn-dart get together and make a baby.

(“photo” credit is given to Nick Kaloterakis, though I assure you this is not a photo)

The A2 is a response to the European Union’s Long-Term Advanced Propulsion Concepts and Technologies (Lapcat) request for a plane that can get from Brussels to Sydney in four hours (I guess the secret is out that Belgium is planning to invade Australia). Initially I assumed there were no windows because the major airlines had finally gotten together and decided to admit they just wanted to pack people into airlines without chairs or seats or anything, forming a kind of passenger-loaf, but there was a different explanation:

Engineers didn’t include windows in the design because only space-shuttle windows, which are too heavy for use in an airliner, can withstand the heat the A2 would encounter.

The interesting part of the A2 is its “geared” engine process (my term, not theirs) wherein the jets are a combination of turbojet (your typical airliner) and a ramjet (basically: a missle). This hybridization means that the A2 can take off and land slowly like a jetliner, but ramp up to a ass-puckering Mach 5 for cruising speed. Reaction Engine’s pitch includes the upsell that hydrogen engines exhaust only water vapor and nitrous oxide, though not enough nitrous for everyone onboard to enjoy, just first class.

Before the excitement of modernized air travel overtakes you, the A2 will never happen. The major interference is that it requires liquid hydrogen, and as of yet, not a single nation has figured out how to create a viable process for producing that much hydrogen without making twice as much planet-killing waste in the process. Additionally, as much as the A2′s cosmetic brutality might titillate me, I suspect the general public will not like the idea of flying around in what is essentially a Scud. I might be talking out my ass here, anyone is welcome to chime in and disagree.

(via Popsci)
(for more squidy futuretech aerospace porn, visit Reaction Engine’s website)

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February 24th, 2008 | Daily Space

2 Responses to “Windowless Squid Rocket Key To Future Travel?”

  1. quagmire Says:

    Sub, a question, if ya know:
    Why in the name of Buddha is anyone bothering with this concept if it’s a given that the environmental effects far outweigh any technological advancement it might bring. I mean, I see that you said it will never be made, but did ya read anywhere why they keep playin’ with it and why it got as far as it did? Sorry, I just don’t have time to research it myself, just wondered if you knew. Possibly ‘future’ less volitile liquid hydrogen production methods?

  2. subspace Says:

    Yeah, the idea is that with the approach of hydrogen powered cars and hydrogen as a worthwhile fuel in general, there are going to be advances in safely producing masses of it. In which case, theoretically, the aerospace industry will be ready. I should upgrade it to “probably will never happen” since it is being attempted in Europe. If anyone is going to do it, they will.

    The Popsci article points out that hydrogen is no more volatile than jet fuel, too, which I don’t know enough about to confirm.

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