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 UK’s 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 engine’s 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 UK’s 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.

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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.