Why is the Reaction Engines Limited SABRE (Synergistic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine) curved along it's length?
Illustration of the SABRE engine with the pre-cooler heat exchanger highlighted in blue. Credit: REL/Adrian Mann
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According to Mark Hempsell, formerly Future Programmes Director at Reaction Engines Ltd., now CEO of Hempsell Astronautics Ltd., explaining the reason for SABRE's curved nacelle over at NasaSpaceFlight.com forum:
Why a Curved nacelle? – the most frequently asked technical question. The answer is: the air intake on the front of the nacelle needs to point directly into the incoming airflow whereas SKYLON’s wings and body need to fly with an angle of incidence to create lift, so the intake points down by 7 degrees to account for this. The rocket thrust chambers in the back of nacelle need to point through the centre of mass of the vehicle so are angled down; again by 7 degrees but it is a coincidence the angle is the same.