Hypersonic flight technology gets boost from two industry giants
Boeing HorizonX Ventures and Rolls-Royce have announced their investment in Reaction Engines, a UK-based aerospace technology company. Reaction Engines hypersonic propulsion technology, by enables high-speed point-to-point transport, is said to contribute to the next generation of hypersonic flight and space access vehicles.
Reaction Engines is developing the Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine (SABRE), a hybrid engine blending jet and rocket technology that is capable of Mach 5 in air-breathing mode and Mach 25 in rocket mode for space flight.
As part of the SABRE program, Reaction Engines developed an ultra-lightweight heat exchanger that stops engine components from overheating at high speeds, thus improving access to hypersonic flight and space, Boeing states.
Boeing HorizonX announced its investment in the UK company pioneering in advanced propulsion systems, on April 11, 2018. According to Steve Nordlund, vice president of Boeing HorizonX, "As Reaction Engines unlocks advanced propulsion that could change the future of air and space travel, we expect to leverage their revolutionary technology to support Boeing's pursuit of hypersonic flight."
For Boeing HorizonX, Reaction Engines is its first investment in a UK company. In reaction, to Boeing’s announcement, Mark Thomas, CEO of Reaction Engines, said "This is a very exciting step that will contribute to our efforts to develop a commercial technology business and accelerate opportunities to further the future of air and space travel through SABRE technology."
Rolls-Royce followed suit by announcing its investment in the UK hypersonic propulsion company on April 12, 2018. “We are delighted to become a strategic investor in Reaction Engines Limited, an innovative UK company that is helping push the boundaries of aviation technology,” said Paul Stein, Rolls-Royce Chief Technology Officer. Rolls-Royce says it is ready to assist with the development of the new technology and that the company plans to incorporate it into its future products.
By securing backing from Rolls-Royce and Boeing HorizonX, Reaction Engines has now raised $37.3 million in funding. The two aviation giants join BAE Systems, which invested $29.3 million in Reaction Engines in 2015 and is providing further investment in this Series B funding round writes.
“These new partners bring invaluable expertise in both hypersonics and engine technologies with significant access to target markets,” said Thomas. “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,” The Engineer quotes him as saying.
Founded by three propulsion engineers in 1989, Reaction Engines produces robust technical designs for advanced heat exchangers, air-breathing engines, and the vehicles they could power. These capabilities may lead to high-speed point-to-point transport that is cost-effective and sustainable. The company says it has recently achieved a number of milestones for the development of SABRE, and is set to test the engine core in 2020.
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