Space Engine Systems Inc (SES) has been developing an air breathing engine called the DASS Engine for high altitude flying and for space applications for more than two decades. SES has been launched after successful testing in 2012. DASS Engine development is also funded by the Canadian Government. The University of Calgary is doing parallel research in Nano Technology for heat dissipation and solid fuel injection.
Wikipedia link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Engine_Systems
SES has facilities in Edmonton, Alberta Canada and also within the University of Calgary for the development of the various components of the DASS Engine. SES plans to set up various hubs within Canada to expedite the process of readiness to meet its target of prototype testing.
The DASS Engine will exceed Mach 5 and can fly at altitudes of around 30 KMs reaching anywhere on earth within 4.5 to 5 hours. It will take off from a runway just like a plane and go to 30 km altitude and develop speeds of a minimum of Mach 5. It can also be used for Single Stage To Orbit (SSTO) for space applications to exit and re-enter by storing oxygen.
DASS Engine uses simple proven conventional turbine engine with a built in heat exchanger and nano solid fuel technology for additional fuel and highly efficient heat dissipation. Phase 1 testing has shown great promise and proof of concept has been successfully completed. We are now proceeding into Phase 2 which is getting ready with conventional turbine engines to apply this concept. This will turn out to be the prototype system.
Upon successful completion of Phase 2 we will prepare the engine for unmanned flight to prove the concept of actual flight during the later part of 2017 or early 2018 subject to all approvals and successful Phase 3 testing.
Discussions are simultaneously ongoing for a combined composite vehicle design and manufacturing.
The specific impulse (Isp) of air-breathing engines are far superior to rockets over a wide range of Mach numbers. Air-breathing engines typically have a lower thrust-to-weight ratio compared to rockets. That is why the DASS engine will be integrated into a lifting-body vehicle. For an SSTO vehicle, reduced vehicle mass and increased payload mass fraction translates to lower operation costs. For transport, the ability to travel at hypersonic speeds drastically decreases the time required to cover long distances.
The DASS Engine will be the least expensive mode for Space applications compared to any rockets used at this time around the world. It can exit to space and reenter back by reduction of speed using tilting of the engine for re-entry by reversing the engine thrust and land back on the tarmac just like any other plane. It will be the first of its kind of reusable vehicle for space applications. No debris is left in space and no discarding of any portion of the vehicle. It is a plane in space. It can definitely be modified for various pay loads and satellites.
It is a 100% reusable engine when coupled to a vehicle.
The DASS Engine will be the most environmentally friendly engine ever to be built after the development of the Jet Engine. It will be a very safe system compared to conventional rockets as most of the components used in the DASS Engine are conventional proven certified systems in aerospace applications.
"It is not only a game changer but a leap in technology" says Pradeep Dass, the President & Chief Technology Officer of Space Engine Systems.
The technology was widely discussed during the Paris Air Show in June 2015. Further Technical Papers were presented at the Munich AIRTEC International show in Germany in November 2015. And Space Engine Systems paper on Air Breathing Engines has been selected at the Airtec 2016 show in Munich. Airtec schedule (p.10) [pdf]