Hypersonic Engine Attracts Major Investors


The hypersonic Sabre engine under development by Reaction Engines has attracted an investment of about $30 million from global aerospace company BAE Systems, the companies announced on Tuesday, and they also said a $90 million research grant from the British government is expected to be finalized soon. The injection of cash will accelerate development of the Sabre jet-rocket hybrid engine, which BAE says has “the potential to revolutionize hypersonic flight and the economics of space access.” Mark Thomas, managing director of Reaction Engines, said the deal means the company will transition from researching “enabling technologies” for the engine and now will work toward developing and testing a working prototype.

BAE Systems is a global defense and aerospace company that employs more than 80,000 people in 40 countries. Reaction Engines was formed in 1989 by British inventor Alan Bond to develop the Sabre engine design as well as a launch vehicle concept. The British government grant will help to develop the engine and also to investigate its applications for space access vehicles. According to the Reaction Engines website, “Sabre is at heart a rocket engine designed to power aircraft directly into space (single-stage to orbit) to allow reliable, responsive and cost-effective space access, and in a different configuration to allow aircraft to cruise at high speeds (five times the speed of sound) within the atmosphere.” The engine achieves this goal by operating in two rocket modes: initially in air-breathing mode and subsequently in conventional rocket mode.