Reaction Engines will take the next step in the development of its SABRE hybrid engine after raising £26.5m in funding from Boeing HorizonX Ventures and Rolls Royce.
The investors were obviously impressed with the company’s technology, the mainstay of which is an engine for both space use and aerospace use, able to reach Mach 5 in air-breathing mode and Mach 25 for space flight. Key to the potential is that is can travel as a normal jet engine before switching to rocket mode as the air thins. In addition, the company has advanced thermal management technology which stops the engine overheating at high speeds.
The dual nature of the product opens up different commercial opportunities. Markets that the company will explore include motorsport, electric vehicle thermal management, waste heat recuperation, small satellite cooling and aero-engines.
In particular, large opportunities could be found in the reemergence of supersonic flight as a potential passenger market and also the era of low-cost satellite launches pioneered by the likes of Blue Origin and SpaceX. The ability for a rocket to launch and land like a regular aircraft is a very appealing proposition.
Mark Thomas, Chief Executive of Reaction Engines said “This is a significant milestone for Reaction Engines and I am delighted to welcome our new strategic and financial shareholders. In addition to providing our largest round of private investment, these new partners bring invaluable expertise in both hypersonics and engine technologies with significant access to target markets. This is not only a vote of confidence in our technology but also underlines belief in our ability to develop a thriving commercial business which will provide strong financial returns for our shareholders.”
A test of the engine is scheduled for 2020 in a new test facility.