Testing of the precooler took place in Colorado, but after securing more than £100 million in public and private funding-including investments from BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, and Boeing HorizonX-Reaction Engines is finishing construction of a test site in Westcott, Buckinghamshire in the United Kingdom where it will begin testing the SABRE Engine core.
A BRIT firm has successfully tested a "spacelane" engine that could blast a plane across the Atlantic in less than an hour at 25 times the speed of sound.
That's more than 50% faster than the cruising speed of Concorde - which used to make the journey between NY and Paris in around 3.5 hours - and matches the speed record of the fastest jet aircraft ever made, the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird.
Their experimental Synergetic Air Breathing Rocket Engine (Sabre) is created to be fitted to large aircraft to ferry passengers around the world in hours and deliver goods into orbit for less. If so, it could cut flight time between London and NY to under an hour.
There are also plans for the aircraft to travel at 25 times the speed of sound and to take people into space and return to Earth for a fraction of today's costs.
Reaction Engines' milestone is the result of twenty years' work by the company's founders Alan Bond, Richard Varvill and John Scott, the Financial Times' reported. The precooler technology is a potential enabling technology for advanced propulsion systems and other commercial applications.
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The company says its engine can cool air from 420 degrees Celsius to room temperature in less than a second.
Pre-cooling air entering the engine is essential at higher speeds because the effects of friction and compression on air travelling at supersonic speeds makes it extremely hot.
After this point, the engine would need to burn liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen from on-board fuel tanks.
It did this by successfully quenching a 420°C (788°F) stream of gases in less than 1/20th of a second.
Mark Thomas, the Reaction Engines CEO, said: "If you can pull it off, it's a game changer". At higher speeds and altitude, it would then transition to its rocket mode, combining the fuel with a small supply of oxygen the vehicle had carried in flight.
"This provides an important validation of our heat exchanger and thermal management technology portfolio which has application across emerging areas such as very high-speed flight, hybrid electric aviation and integrated vehicle thermal management".