These Two Companies Are Developing a Hypersonic Space Engine

11. 3. 15 by 
BAE Systems and Reaction Engine

British multinational defense, aerospace, and security company BAE Systems announced that it would buy a 20% stake in aerospace manufacturer Reaction Engines as part of an agreement to help develop Reactions’ Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine (SABRE), a hypersonic engine designed for its single-stage-to-orbit Skylon spacecraft. Under the agreement, BAE will buy £20.6 million (US$32 million) in Reaction Engines’ share capital and acquire representation on the company’s board of directors. As a benefit, Reaction will be able to use BAE’s expertise in aerospace technology development and project management.

Skylon and SABRE

By acting as a jet while in the atmosphere and as a rocket in space, SABRE allows the reduction of the propellant load. Therefore, less oxygen is needed to burn the liquid hydrogen fuel. SABRE achieves this at velocities above Mach 5 (7,200 km/h) before flying into space, where it goes into rocket mode to obtain even faster speeds. While the agreement is still pending approval of Reaction Engines’ shareholders, the British government is expected to provide a £60 million ($92 million) grant for ground testing and seeking applications for Skylon and the SABRE engine.


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