Core engine demonstrator.

A major programme was launched in October 2016 to design, build and demonstrate a complete SABRE engine core, which is the whole engine minus the precooler and rocket nozzle (these systems are being developed separately).

We are able to do this because the SABRE propulsion concept is totally modular from both design and operational perspectives, so all of the key parts in the engine can be developed and tested individually before being integrated into the rest of the machine.

How it all works.

Applying this principle to the whole propulsion system, it becomes apparent that the complete engine ‘core’ can be tested at ground-level static conditions, right up to its operational design condition of Mach 5, and 25 km altitude. This is possible because of the unique operational characteristics of the precooler, which sits in front of the main engine core to ensure cool ambient air conditions, right up to that high speed operating point. There is thus no need to test the SABRE core at actual Mach 5 conditions.

This core design and development activity is a major undertaking which will culminate in full system testing, at which point the world’s first air-breathing engine capable of accelerating from zero to Mach 5 will have been demonstrated.