USAF Research Laboratory Investigates Potential of SABRE Engine

Skylon with the SABRE engine. (Credit: Reaction Engines)
Skylon with the SABRE engine. (Credit: Reaction Engines) reports that Reaction Engine’s SABRE propulsion system is attracting some interest in the United States:

The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory is studying hypersonic vehicles that would use the Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine (SABRE), which the English company Reaction Engines Ltd. is working on to power the Skylon space plane, AFRL officials said.

“AFRL is formulating plans to look at advanced vehicle concepts based on Reaction Engine’s heat-exchanger technology and SABRE engine concept,” officials with AFRL, which is based in Ohio, told via email last month….

The AFRL work is being carried out under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with Reaction Engines that was announced in January. AFRL officials told that they are using computers to model SABRE.

“The Air Force research laboratories in the States have carried out some modeling to verify that the SABRE does actually work, that it is a real engine, and so I am hoping they are going to confirm that very soon,” [Reaction Engines Managing Director Alan] Bond said.

“This is obviously opening doors in the United States, and again, I can’t say a great deal about that, but we have very good dialogue going across the Atlantic,” he added. “In the next couple of years, it’s going to be quite exciting.”

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Video: Alan Bond Talks Skylon

Video Caption: The Les Sayer Memorial Lecture given by Alan Bond (Aerospace Engineer, Reaction Engines) titled “Skylon: Shaping Tomorrow”

UK Science Minister Promises New Era for British Space

UK_space_agencyDuring the UK Space Conference in Glasgow last week, Science Minister David Willetts outlined the government’s ongoing efforts to expand the nation’s space program.

Actions include a $91 million (£60 million) investment in Reaction Engines’ SABRE propulsion system for the Skylon space plane, increased activities in a variety of commercial and scientific areas, and a long-term plan to capture 10 percent of the global space market by 2030.

Excerpts from his prepared remarks follow that focus on the overall health of the industry, future goals, and the UK’s investment in SABRE and other propulsion technologies. To see what else he discussed, click over to his prepared remarks.