SABRE dual mode rocket engine (UPDATES}

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A new thread because Reaction Engines Ltd. (REL) has decoupled their SABRE engine from the Skylon spaceplane concept. REL will now totally focus on their engine and let aerospace companies design vehicles around it. They're already known to be working with the UK govt. and European Space Agency, Locked Martin and the US Air Force Research Laboratory. 


SABRE: Synergistic Air Breathing Rocket Engine


REL's main development is a high capacity pre-cooler with 400 megawatts of cooling power using <1 tonne of hardware. It can take 1,000°C intake air down to -150°C in .01 second without frosting up. This has been validated by the US Air Force Research Laboratory, BAE and ESA.


2012 qualification test




For dual mode use, a SABRE vehicle can take off using the pre-cooler output as oxidizer for it's rocket engine(s) and acceletate up to hypersonic speeds and cruise. After getting into thin air, SABRE can switch over to stored liquid oxygen for a higher powered flight into space, then switch back to air breathing after re-entry for atmospheric flight and a subsonic landing.  A variable geometry nozzle adapts to changes in atmospheric pressure, so output is optimized and flow separation prevented.


Single chamber SABRE sized for a combat aircraft


REL's precooler can also be fit to the front of a modified jet engine, a concept known as SCIMITAR, for subsonic through hypersonic atmospheric flight. 


There are also numerous non-aerospace uses for rapid gas cooling/liquification at this level.


REL has announced breaking ground on a new SABRE test facility at Westcott,


Press Release....



Reaction Engines Begins Construction of New Engine Test Facility

WESTCOTT, UK (Reaction Engines PR)  Reaction Engines Ltd. today began construction of a new engine test facility where it plans to undertake the first ground based demonstration of its revolutionary SABRE air-breathing rocket engine.

The test facility at Westcott, Buckinghamshire, UK will enable Reaction Engines to test critical subsystems along with the testing of a SABRE engine core, which will commence in 2020.

The project represents a substantial investment for Reaction Engines, which will consist of a multi-purpose propulsion test stand designed to accommodate various test engine configurations, an assembly building, workshops, offices and control room. The location of workshops and other support facilities alongside the test stand will enable configuration changes to the engine to take place at the site, reducing the down time between testing phases and accelerating the development programme of the SABRE engine.

To mark the start of construction, Mark Thomas, CEO, Reaction Engines undertook a ground breaking ceremony with Franco Ongaro, Director of Technology, Engineering and Quality, European Space Agency (ESA); Dr. Chris Castelli, Director, Programmes, UK Space Agency and Richard Harrington, CEO, Buckinghamshire Thames Valley LEP.

Mark Thomas, CEO, Reaction Engines said:

This is another exciting step forward in development of Reaction Engines SABRE engine and a visible demonstration of the UKs commitment to the programme. I look forward to seeing this unique facility take shape and commencing our core engine testing, which will be a defining moment for aerospace.

Franco Ongaro, Director of Technology, Engineering and Quality, ESA said:

The opening of this new test facility at Westcott Today marks an historical moment for the European Aerospace industry and for the UK research and development in rocket propulsion. This facility will enable the ground test of the SABRE engine cycle, opening the way to the first flight tests, and to a new era. The European Space Agency is proud of this partnership with industry and the UK Space Agency, to which we bring our technical competence, which has supported the SABRE development to this stage, and we are confident, to its future flight success.

The construction of the SABRE engine test facility is a significant milestone. The company has already successfully undertaken testing of the engines pre-cooler and thrust chamber technologies, and will undertake further ground-based high-temperature testing of the pre-cooler early in 2018.

The test facility is located in the 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 UKs National Space Propulsion Test Facility and the site is now home to a number of space propulsion and satellite technology companies.

About Westcott Venture Park:

Westcott Venture Park, owned by Rockspring Hanover Property Unit Trust, is a former Government Research Facility and today offers a wide range of industrial / office accommodation with units ranging from 120 sq ft up to 30,000 sq ft.

Located between Aylesbury and Bicester, it is the largest business park in Buckinghamshire with major occupiers including FedEx, Shanks, BAE Systems, Moog, and with Bucks Recycling, Ecopac, Green Retreats and Total Carbide occupying five former aircraft hangars.

Westcott Venture Park has successfully completed the letting of the first phase of the Century Court development, which has resulted in all seven units totalling 24,000 sq ft being fully occupied.

In 2016 Westcott Venture Park celebrated 70 years since the park became the Guided Projectile Establishment and therefore the home of rocket propulsion research in the UK.

Planning Permission for Reaction Engines test facility was approved on 28th April 2017 and the application for Hazardous Substance Consent has gained approval from HSE and is now going through the remainder of the planning process with the local council.

For further information, visit:

About Reaction Engines:

Reaction Engines Limited (Reaction Engines) is a privately held, growing, company based in Culham, Oxfordshire, UK. It employs over 100 people, many of whom are aerospace engineers and apprentices. It was founded in 1989 to develop the technologies needed for an advanced combined cycle air-breathing rocket engine class called SABRE (Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine) which is a leading contender for the next generation of hypersonic flight and space access vehicles.

SABRE is an innovative new class of aerospace propulsion that has the potential to provide efficient air-breathing thrust from standstill on the runway to speeds above five times the speed of sound in the atmosphere. A SABRE engine can then transition to a rocket mode of operation, allowing spaceflight at up to orbital velocity, equivalent to twenty five times the speed of sound. Through its ability to breathe air from the atmosphere, SABRE offers a significant reduction in propellant consumption and weight compared to conventional rocket engines which have to carry their own oxygen.



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A sensible move. Focus on that amazing engine and let companies that specialise in airframes take it into the sky.  I can't wait until this baby hits the skies. :)


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Unobscured Vision

Awwww yeah. UK Power filling the sky again. Can't wait. This is a true game-changer. Our sincere well-wishes on the venture and its' success, cousins. :yes:(Y) You all make it happen like no other!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Reaction Engines is hiring a design Eagle Rock, Colorado.


This goes with last year's founding of a US subsidiary headed up by Dr. Adam Dissel, formerly Lockheed Martin's System Architect for Responsive Space.


"....developing relationships with US Industry and Government."


Uhhh...Yeah :)


Reaction Engines, Inc. (REI), the U.S. subsidiary of Reaction Engines, Ltd. (REL), is seeking engineers with system design and analysis expertise to conduct assessments for multiple systems and aerospace vehicle applications utilizing Reaction Engines SABRE technology.  Planned assessments include: initial mission requirements definition, vehicle concepts exploration, initial vehicle layout and CAD modeling, trajectory analysis, mass properties estimation, life cycle cost estimation, risk identification, and operations analysis.  Also, support of ongoing system development activities including: management of suppliers, partner relationships, business development, technology development strategy, and proposal preparation.  This is a highly visible, fast-paced opportunity in a rapidly growing organization that will influence the future of operational SABRE-based vehicle systems.

Location: US REI office in Castle Rock, Colorado, USA.

Status: Full time

Travel required: 10 to 20%, both domestic and international.

Basic Qualifications:

Bachelors degree in Aerospace or Mechanical Engineering, Applied Physics, or other equivalent field of discipline from an accredited institution.

Two to five years of relevant engineering experience.
Ability to work in the U.S.

Ability to computationally model ascent trajectories for launch vehicle and/or hypersonic systems.

Familiarity with flight system performance parameters and constraints.

Previous experience conducting system level trade studies.
Working understanding of flight vehicle related technical disciplines such as aerodynamics, aerothermal, structures, loads, rocket propulsion, turbine engines, etc.

Good organizational skills and the ability to excel at multi-tasking.

Ability to generate effective technical presentations and communicate technical content effectively.

Proven teamwork and interpersonal skills.

Ability to adapt to rapidly changing priorities.

Willingness to learn new tasks and take on daunting challenges with short notice.

Ability to interface effectively with users, customers, management, and other engineering personnel.

Ability to work independently and reliably as part of a small team.

Must comply with all applicable import and export control laws and regulations including, ITAR and EAR regulations.

Desired Qualifications:

Understanding of launch system integration, ground operations, and range coordination.

Expertise in modeling lifting and/or airbreathing ascent trajectories.

Ability to integrate different analysis tools and analyze systems of systems using software packages such as ModelCenter or similar.

Experience with hypersonic aerodynamics and/or propulsion systems.

Experience with turbomachinery and/or cycle analysis of turbine engines.

Experience in conceptual vehicle packaging, configuration, and layout  ability to model in CAD.

Experience with system of systems effectiveness simulations, modeling and analysis.

Familiarity with technical collaboration within an export controlled environment.

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  • 7 months later...

Press release


Reaction Engines Begins Construction of High-Temperature Airflow Test Facility in Colorado

WATKINS, CO – December 18, 2017

Reaction Engines, Inc. has begun construction of a new high-temperature airflow test facility where it plans to validate the performance of its precooler heat exchanger technology, an enabler of its revolutionary SABRETM engine. Located at the Front Range Airport near Watkins, Colorado, the test facility will be capable of exposing the precooler test article (HTX) to high-temperature airflow conditions in excess of 1800°F (1000°C) that are expected during high-speed flights up to Mach 5.

Reaction Engines, Inc. recently received a contract award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to conduct the HTX tests, which are designed to build upon previous successful testing of the precooler heat exchanger at ambient temperature conditions.

“This new test facility shows our commitment to rapidly prove our precooler technology in the most compelling test campaign possible,” said Dr. Adam Dissel, President of Reaction Engines Inc. “The facility’s ability to deliver controlled temperature profiles over flight-like run durations at significant airflow represents a unique capability that can fill additional testing demand beyond HTX.”

The project is an additional investment by Reaction Engines into ground test facilities. The company is progressing rapidly on the previously announced TF1 engine test facility in the United Kingdom where the first ground-based demonstration of its revolutionary SABRE™ air-breathing rocket engine will take place. The Colorado test facility, named TF2, consists of a test building and a control room located on the east side of the Front Range Airport. The hot air for the testing will be provided by a modified afterburning jet engine configured to produce a wide range of flowrates and temperatures.

“We are tremendously excited that Reaction Engines is locating their new engine test facility here at Front Range Airport and, as the future site of Spaceport Colorado, the linkages between high-speed aviation uses and the commercial space applications for this new technology are a perfect fit,” said Dave Ruppel, Front Range Airport Director. “Reaction Engines has been outstanding to work with and we are looking forward to being a small part of their ongoing success.”

Colorado has a long history as a leader in the U.S. aerospace sector, and provides a supportive and capable location for Reaction Engines’ expanding U.S. activity.

“Colorado is a leading aerospace state known for our innovative businesses that propel our growing aerospace economy,” remarked Jay Lindell, representing the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. “We are proud to have Reaction Engines in Colorado at the Front Range Airport and look forward to supporting their test operations that will lead to future cutting-edge propulsion technology.”

Once TF2 achieves full operations, and following the completion of HTX testing, the company plans to make the facility available to industry, technology developers, and universities who could benefit from the facility’s unique test capabilities.

Distribution Statement A:

Approved for Public Release, Distribution Unlimited

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  • 3 months later...

This is getting serious (see last paragraph)



Boeing joins $37 million investment in British rocket firm Reaction Engines

The U.S. industrial giant joined Rolls-Royce and defense company BAE Systems in a $37.6 million fundraising round for U.K.-based propulsion company Reaction Engines. This is both the second foreign investment and the second space investment for Boeing HorizonX Ventures, which contributed to the $15 million funding round for Australian satellite company Myriota last month.

Reaction Engines’ advanced propulsion “could change the future of air and space travel,” according to Boeing HorizonX vice president Steve Nordlund.

"We expect to leverage their revolutionary technology to support Boeing’s pursuit of hypersonic flight," Nordlund said in a statement.


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Very nice, but I still want to see one of these babies actually flying...

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Ground tests in the UK and Colorado first, then a test in an aircraft. 2020/21-ish.

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Unobscured Vision



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  • 11 months later...

SABRE has passed its European Space Agency Preliminary Design Review (PDR), and it has been greenlighted.


ESA website...



The development programme of the world’s first air-breathing rocket engine has taken an additional significant step forward, which will lead to major testing milestones being undertaken within the next 18 months.  


ESA, together with the UK Space Agency (UKSA) recently reviewed the preliminary design of the demonstrator engine core of the Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine (SABRE), which Reaction Engines will use to undertake ground-based testing at test facility at Westcott, Buckinghamshire, which is currently under construction.

"The positive conclusion of our preliminary design review marks a major milestone in SABRE development," comments Mark Ford, heading ESA’s Propulsion Engineering section. "It confirms the test version of this revolutionary new class of engine is ready for implementation."

SABRE is uniquely designed to scoop up atmospheric air during the initial part of its ascent to space at up to five times the speed of sound. At about 25 km it would then switch to pure rocket mode for its final climb to orbit.

In future SABRE could serve as the basis of a reusable launch vehicle that operates like an aircraft. Because it would carry much less bulky onboard oxygen supplies, such a vehicle could deliver the same payload to orbit of a half the vehicle mass of current launchers, as well as potentially offering a large reduction in cost and higher launch rate.







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