Government investment in revolutionary rocket engineCompanies looking to put payloads such as satellites into Earth orbit could soon have access to a low cost, reusable delivery vehicle. And the technology behind it is British. Reaction Engines Ltd (REL) has been working on the SABRE advanced cycle air-breathing rocket engine, and has now been granted £60m of government funding to drive the development forward.
Described by the European Space Agency as a major breakthrough in propulsion, the SABRE engine could be used on a range of different vehicles, providing either Mach 5 high altitude cruising or low cost, reusable space access. To demonstrate the potential of SABRE engines to space access, REL has designed SKYLON – an unpiloted, reusable space plane that can take off from a runway, fly direct to earth orbit, and return for a runway landing just like an aircraft.
Using the SABRE engine, SKYLON promises an order of magnitude reduction in cost versus existing technology, 400x improved reliability and responsive access to space.
The £60m government investment will come in two phases; £35m in 2014/15 and a further £25m in 2015/16, driving the construction of a demonstration engine and a blueprint for manufacture.
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