SVBA winners pass key milestone with SABRE technology

Reaction Engines say their SABRE air-breathing rocket engine technology has passed another key milestone.

The company recently won the Large Business of the Year Award and the Employer of the Year Award at the 2019 South and Vale Business Awards.

SVBA Winners Reaction Engines
SVBA winners Reaction Engines

SABRE – Synergetic Air Breathing Rocket Engine

The SABRE air-breathing rocket engine is designed to drive space planes to orbit and take airliners around the world in just a few hours. The team has developed a heat-exchanger so that the equipment can manage very high temperature airflows.

Recently, it has demonstrated the ability to handle the simulated conditions of flying at more than three times the speed of sound.


The ground-based tests saw Reaction Engines’ unique precooler successfully quench the 420°C (~788°F) intake airflow in less than 1/20th of a second.

In the recent tests, the compact precooler achieved all test objectives and achieved 1.5 MW of heat transfer, the equivalent to the energy demand of 1,000 homes; successfully cooling incoming air from a temperature at which hot steel starts to glow.

The tests are the first phase in an extensive test programme which will see the precooler test article (HTX) exposed to high-temperature airflow conditions in excess of the 1,000°C (~1800°F) expected during Mach 5 hypersonic flight.

Mark Thomas, Chief Executive of Reaction Engines, said:

“This is a hugely significant milestone which has seen Reaction Engines’ proprietary precooler technology achieve unparalleled heat transfer performance. The HTX test article met all test objectives and the successful initial tests highlight how our precooler delivers world-leading heat transfer capabilities at low weight and compact size.’

Further testing

Reaction Engines is also in the final stage of constructing its TF1 test facility at Westcott, UK, where it will undertake ground-based testing of a SABRE engine core.

Over the last four years, Reaction Engines has raised over £100m from public and private sources and has secured investment from BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce and Boeing HorizonX.

Find out more on the Reaction Engines website.