UK rocket-botherers rattle SABRE, snaffle big bucks

£26.5m in new cash to see 2020 ground tests of Synergetic Air Breathing Rocket Engine


UK rocket botherer Reaction Engines Limited (REL) has raised £26.5m from backers in the finance and aerospace fields towards development of its Synergetic Air Breathing Rocket Engine (SABRE).

SABRE has stubbornly refused to leave the lab bench and, with ground testing of the engine core due to start in 2020, the cash injection will come in handy, particularly in the construction of REL’s shiny new test facility in Westcott, Buckinghamshire, UK.

The new money came from Boeing’s investment entity, Boeing HorizonX Ventures, and Rolls Royce. The money is small change for Rolls, who took a £227m hit earlier in the year thanks to problems with the Trent 1000 and 900 engines, the former of which powers Boeing’s 787.

Since the investment is for new shares, existing REL shareholders will need to give the deal the stamp of approval.

Mark Thomas, chief exec of REL, was thrilled to trouser the cash, saying “these new partners bring invaluable expertise in both hypersonics and engine technologies with significant access to target markets”.

Paul Stein, chief technology officer of Rolls Royce, said: "We plan to incorporate this technology into our own future products.”

SABRE itself is capable of Mach 5.4 in air breathing mode, before going to Mach 25 in rocket mode, using onboard liquid oxygen.

REL is keen to commercialise innovations made in the path towards the first working engine, with the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) taking an interest in REL’s heat exchanger technology.

The new money takes the investments made in REL to £100m over the last three years, including £60m of UK taxpayer cash.

Sam Gyimah, UK Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, trilled: “Through our ambitious Industrial Strategy, we are working with the sector to pursue new opportunities, develop technologies and infrastructure, and enable small satellite launch and sub-orbital flight from UK spaceports for the first time.”

With the first tests having SABRE firmly bolted to the ground, it may be a while before Gyimah will see spacecraft powered by REL’s technology blasting off from a Cornish spaceport. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • City-killing asteroid won't hit Earth in 2052 after all
    ESA ruins our day with some bad news

    An asteroid predicted to hit Earth in 2052 has, for now, been removed from the European Space Agency's list of rocks to be worried about.

    Asteroid 2021 QM1 was described by ESA as "the riskiest asteroid known to humankind," at least among asteroids discovered in the past year. QM1 was spotted in August 2021 by Arizona-based Mount Lemmon observatory, and additional observations only made its path appear more threatening.

    "We could see its future paths around the Sun, and in 2052 it could come dangerously close to Earth. The more the asteroid was observed, the greater that risk became," said ESA Head of Planetary Defense Richard Moissl. 

    Continue reading
  • AWS sent edgy appliance to the ISS and it worked – just like all the other computers up there
    Congrats, AWS, you’ve boldly gone where the Raspberry Pi has already been

    Amazon Web Services has proudly revealed that the first completely private expedition to the International Space Station carried one of its Snowcone storage appliances, and that the device worked as advertised.

    The Snowcone is a rugged shoebox-sized unit packed full of disk drives – specifically 14 terabytes of solid-state disk – a pair of VCPUs and 4GB of RAM. The latter two components mean the Snowcone can run either EC2 instances or apps written with AWS’s Greengrass IoT product. In either case, the idea is that you take a Snowcone into out-of-the-way places where connectivity is limited, collect data in situ and do some pre-processing on location. Once you return to a location where bandwidth is plentiful, it's assumed you'll upload the contents of a Snowcone into AWS and do real work on it there.

    Continue reading
  • Liftoff at last for South Korean space program
    Satellite-deploying rocket finally launches – after a few setbacks

    South Korea's Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) yesterday succeeded in its endeavor to send the home-grown Nuri launcher into space, then place a working satellite in orbit.

    The launch was scheduled for earlier in June but was delayed by weather and then again by an anomaly in a first-stage oxidizer tank. Its October 2021 launch failed to deploy a dummy satellite, thanks to similar oxidizer tank problems that caused internal damage.

    South Korea was late to enter the space race due to a Cold War-era agreement with the US, which prohibited it developing a space program. That agreement was set aside and yesterday's launch is the culmination of more than a decade of development. The flight puts South Korea in a select group of nations that have demonstrated the capability to build and launch domestically designed and built orbital-class rockets.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022