Press Releases


Press Releases from Reaction Engines Ltd.


AFRL Analysis Confirms Feasibility of the SABRE Engine Concept

Wednesday 15th April 2015

Reaction Engines Ltd. is pleased to announce that analysis undertaken by the United States’ Air Force Research Laboratory (‘AFRL’) has confirmed the feasibility of the Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine (‘SABRE’) engine cycle concept.

The analysis was undertaken by AFRL as part of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (‘CRADA’) with the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Aerospace Systems Directorate (AFRL/RQ). These investigations examined the thermodynamic cycle of the SABRE concept and found no significant barrier to its theoretical viability provided the engine component and integration challenges are met.

Reaction Engines Ltd. and AFRL are now formulating plans for continued collaboration on the SABRE engine; the proposed work will include investigation of vehicle concepts based on a SABRE derived propulsion system, testing of SABRE engine components and exploration of defence applications for Reaction Engines’ heat exchanger technologies.

AFRL/RQ program manager Barry Hellman stated - "The activities under the CRADA have allowed AFRL to understand the SABRE engine concept, its pre-cooler heat exchanger technology, and its cycle in more detail. Our analysis has confirmed the feasibility and potential performance of the SABRE engine cycle. While development of the SABRE represents a substantial engineering challenge, the engine cycle is a very innovative approach and warrants further investigation. The question to answer next is what benefit the SABRE could bring to high speed aerospace vehicles compared to other propulsion systems. Although application of the SABRE for single stage to orbit space access remains technically very risky as a first application, the SABRE may provide some unique advantages in more manageable two stage to orbit configurations. Furthermore, the heat exchanger technology also warrants further investigation for applications across the aerospace domain."

Sam Hutchison, Director of Corporate Development at Reaction Engines Ltd commented - “The confirmation by AFRL of the feasibility of the SABRE engine cycle has further validated our team’s own assessment and conviction that the SABRE engine represents a potential breakthrough in propulsion that could lead to game changing space access and high speed flight capability. We look forward to continued collaboration with AFRL”.

SABRE is an innovative class of aerospace propulsion that has the potential to provide efficient air- breathing thrust from standstill on the runway to speeds above Mach 5 (4,500mph) in the atmosphere – twice as fast as jet engines. The SABRE engine can then transition to a rocket mode of operation for flight at higher Mach numbers and space flight. Through its ability to ‘breathe’ air from the atmosphere, SABRE offers a significant reduction in propellant consumption compared to conventional rocket engines which have to carry their own oxygen – which is heavy. The weight saved by carrying less oxygen can be used to increase the capability of launch vehicles including options for high performance reusable launch vehicles with increased operational flexibility, such as horizontal take-off and landing. Additionally, the SABRE engine concept could potentially be configured to efficiently power aircraft flying at high supersonic and hypersonic speeds.

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Appointment of Mark Thomas

Tuesday 17th March 2015

The Board is pleased to announce the appointment of Mark Thomas as Managing Director and member of the Board of Reaction Engines Ltd, with effect from 25th May 2015.

Mark has over 20 years’ experience in defence and civil aerospace and joins from Rolls-Royce, where he is Chief Engineer for Technology and Future Programmes with Rolls-Royce Civil Large Engines.

Alan Bond becomes Chief Engineer of Reaction Engines to focus on ensuring the company continues to lead the way in its technical development.

Alan Bond commented, “We are pleased to welcome Mark and his wealth of experience and expertise – his appointment enables us to accelerate our plans to develop the SABRE engine.”

Nigel McNair-Scott said: “Alan Bond has been the driving force behind the SABRE engine, and with Mark leading the team supported by Alan’s technical focus, we safeguard progress to date and take our plans to the next stage.“

Finance Director, Tom Scrope, will serve as Managing Director in the interim.

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First SABRE Development Milestone Reached

Monday 26th January 2015

Reaction Engines Ltd announces company growth and completion of first SABRE development milestone.

This year, the Reaction Engines team are expanding in staff and activities to complete the SABRE demonstrator programme, with delivery on track for 2019. The company has relocated to larger premises on Culham Science Centre; consolidated its two manufacturing subsidiaries to a single new location in Didcot; and is recruiting across the company, ready for the design, manufacture and testing of the full SABRE engine cycle. This growth phase has also included the purchase of new, bespoke equipment which will enable Reaction Engines to manufacture its proprietary SABRE pre- coolers in-house, at full scale.

The key development activities over the first year of this programme have centred on intakes and combustion systems. This activity includes the recently completed Preliminary Requirements Review development milestone, and has been 50% funded by Reaction Engines' private capital. Matching funding has been provided by the UK Space Agency, through the European Space Agency. With the UK Government's commitment of £60m and private capital secured towards the next steps in this development phase, the Reaction Engines team are positive that a full static demonstration of the SABRE engine is achievable before the end of the decade, marking the greatest advance in propulsion since the jet engine.

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'Skylon-based European Launch Service Operator' Study Complete

Thursday 5th June 2014

Reaction Engines Ltd announces the completion of the most detailed study to date on the SKYLON vehicle's systems and infrastructure

The SKYLON-based European Launch Service Operator (S-ELSO) study has been carried out in response to the European Space Agency's 'New European Launch Service' requirements for lowering the cost of European launch services in the 2020 – 2040 timeframe. The study was led by Reaction Engines with support from Airbus Defence and Space, Grafton Technology, London Economics, Jacobs, QinetiQ Space, and Thales Alenia Space.

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The British Interplanetary Society Plaques on ATV4 for delivery to the International Space Station

Wednesday 5th June 2013

The fourth ATV, ATV 4, named "Albert Einstein", which was launched today on an Ariane 5 rocket, carries two plaques that commemorate the 80th Anniversary of the British Interplanetary Society (BIS). The two plaques will be taken to the International Space Station. It is planned for one to be returned to Earth while it is hoped its twin remains on the ISS permanently.

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The British Interplanetary Society Delivers a Plaque to SSTL for Flight on UK's TechDemoSat-1

Tuesday 5th March 2013

TechDemoSat-1 whose launch arrangements were announced today by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) will be carrying a plaque commemorating the 80th Anniversary of the founding of the British Interplanetary Society (BIS). The Plaque will be mounted on TechDemoSat-1 and then carried into orbit.

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10 July 2012

Reaction Engines Ltd. , a UK based company, has successfully completed another series of tests of the key component for a new engine, SABRE, that will enable aircraft to fly anywhere on Earth in under 4 hours, or directly into space and back to deliver satellites and other cargo.

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Confidence in SKYLON

24 May 2011

ESA report commissioned by UK Space Agency finds "no impediments" to further development of Reaction Engines' SKYLON Spaceplane

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20 Years Since HOTOL: Reaction Engines Ltd and SKYLON

2 August 2009

On 15th August 2009, this Oxfordshire aerospace company celebrated its 20th anniversary.

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British Rocket Company Blazes a Trail to the Future

2 July 2009

This week Airborne Engineering Limited blazed a new trail in British rocketry by moving to facilities at the former Rocket Propulsion Establishment at Westcott.

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Lord Drayson, Minister for Science and Innovation, visits Reaction Engines

22 May 2009

Lord Drayson, Minister for Science and Innovation, has paid a visit to Reaction Engines Ltd (REL) at Culham Science Centre in Oxfordshire.

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The Rocket That Thinks it's a Jet.

18 february 2009

The SKYLON spaceplane is one step closer to realization thanks to European Space Agency and UK Government support for revolutionary British propulsion technology

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