2018 has been a busy and successful year for Reaction Engines. In April, we announced the conclusion of our latest fundraising round, raising £26.5 million from new investors including Rolls Royce and Boeing’s venture capital arm, Boeing Horizon X. This latest capital injection has taken the amount raised from both private and public sources to over £100m over the last three years.
Throughout the year we have had teams hard at work in the UK and USA, constructing two test facilities which we will use to validate the performance of key parts of the SABRE™ engine.
In Colorado, USA, we have recently completed the construction of a new high-temperature airflow test facility located at the Front Range Airport near Watkins, Colorado.
This test facility (TF2) will enable the precooler test article (HTX) to be exposed to high-temperature airflow conditions in excess of 1,000°C (~1800°F) that are expected during high-speed flights up to Mach 5.
Our engineers in Culham constructed the HTX test article and after initial commissioning it was shipped to Colorado
We are now at the facility shakedown phase where a series of systems tests are being conducted ahead of the commencement of the ‘hot’ heat exchanger tests.
In the UK, our TF1 test site is on track.
The test facility is located at Westcott Venture Park, a location with a strong history of rocket propulsion research, having been used to test various UK rocket projects since 1946, including the Blue Streak and Black Arrow programmes. In 2016 the UK Space Agency selected Westcott as the UK’s National Space Propulsion Test Facility and the site is now home to a number of space propulsion and satellite technology companies.
The TF1 test site is due to be completed and commissioned during 2019 and will enable us to test critical subsystems along with the testing of a SABRE engine core.
In other news, our Applied Technologies team has continued to explore opportunities across multiple sectors including aerospace, motorsport and energy. The unique performance and weight combination that our heat exchangers offer is generating significant interest with exciting announcements anticipated in 2019.
We have also seen the continued evolution of the company, bringing new skills into the business and benefitting from our collaboration with BAE Systems, the UK Government and our other industrial partners. Our diverse and talented employee numbers have reached 200 and our reputation for innovation and progress has remained invaluable in attracting top talent. In October we were proud to have taken on our second intake of graduates and continue to have an active outreach programme and advertise for apprentices, summer internships and work placements.
2018 has seen a significant amount of hard work and change in the business, and one in which we have made extensive progress in our development programme. The coming year will see us meet more of our development milestones, including the validation of key parts of the SABRE engine, which will enable us to set out our plans for the next phase in our development and testing programme. Watch this space!