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.
Alan Bond, Managing Director and Chief Engineer at Reaction Engines Ltd, commented:
“The technology we’ve proven, and our ability to integrate it with both rockets and gas turbines to create SABRE is not just a means to a better rocket. This is the beginning of a new generation of propulsion, enabling faster, more efficient transportation both on Earth and in Space. We’re already seeing humanity gaining huge benefits from space-enabled services, and I believe that our connection with space will grow considerably in the near future; Reaction Engines are breaking down the biggest barrier, which is getting into orbit in the first place. We’re opening the gateway to the solar system.”
The IET is staging a lecture by Dr Robert Bond, Corporate Programmes Director of Reaction Engines, at Huntingdon Hall in Worcester on 16th October.
"The SKYLON Space plane, powered by revolutionary SABRE rocket engines, has the potential to transform access to Space. This lecture will explore the prospects it offers for a single-stage-to-orbit launch vehicle with aircraft-like operation and will discuss work currently underway in the UK and Europe to demonstrate the engine and vehicle technology."
Another Skylon overview, this time by CNN. Bond is quoted as saying that test flights could take place as early as 2018. David Baker of the British Interplanetary Society highlights the importance of a high flight rate in making a reusable system efficient and affordable.
Rocketeer comments: Baker: The concept of reusability could be "absorbed into the commercial world in the next decade or two". I think it could happen significantly faster than that, given that we're just a few months away from the first barge landing of an F9R boost stage, and Musk plans to refly a returned stage in 2015.
The Oxford Mail reports that upcoming expansion in engineering, manufacturing and administration roles for Reaction Engines will create 100 new jobs. The firm already employs 45 people at its main site at Culham, Oxfordshire, with 15 others based in Wantage and Newbury, Berkshire.
Given the recent European Space Agency S-ELSO study indicating that Skylon is 'financially feasible', the Engineer magazine polled its readership on what the next course of action should be. A plurality of respondents (35%) thought that Skylon should be fully funded by ESA as its next launcher system.
The latest version of the Skylon Users' Guide (v2.1) has been published by Reaction Engines. Version 2 was extensively revised in light of the development of the D1 vehicle configuration, and the ESA S-ELSO study into the economics of a Skylon-based launch system.