Alan Bond, Reaction Engines 1989 – 2017
Friday 6 October 2017 Words from Alan
This hard decision stemmed from the fact that I am now watching my 73rd birthday rapidly receding in the rear view mirror and, with Mark Thomas firmly in post as CEO and the engineering staff growing at a pace, my role in breathing initial life into the Company is essentially complete.
It has been the rollercoaster ride of a lifetime and I certainly cannot complain that I have ever been bored! I became a professional rocket engineer when I joined Rolls-Royce in 1963, reaching the Rocket department as a permanent staff member in 1967 as Manager of the Cryogenic Performance Office under the Chief Performance Engineer, Viv Wallace In 1976 I joined the UK Atomic Energy Authority working on nuclear fusion, with one eye on better space propulsion systems. However, it turned out that was still a long way off and in 1982 began looking at combined airbreathing and rocket systems based on thermodynamic concepts I had developed to improve nuclear fission rockets back at Rolls-Royce. The result was the HOTOL project which ran for several years to the end of the 1980s. John Scott-Scott and Richard Varvill and I were very reluctant to let the work on HOTOL die without trace and in 1989 we incorporated Reaction Engines Ltd. The following 15 years were the most creative and inspiring time of my career. Many heroes came to the rescue in those years but, Anthony Evans, Paul Portelli and Nigel McNair-Scott deserve special mention. Nigel has become the saviour of the Project and, thanks to his personal commitment, in 2013 the Government invested in the SABRE engine development. Success breeds success and at the end of 2015 Mark Thomas led the investment from BAE Systems with the UK Government now a strong proponent of Reaction Engines. I do not doubt for a moment that Reaction Engines has exciting times ahead as it moves towards testing engine hardware in the 2020s. However, my bit is now done and I plan to return to studying those advanced concepts I abandoned in 1982 in order to focus on the task of simply getting into Earth’s Orbit! Mark Thomas and the team at Reaction Engines wish Alan all the best for his retirement and extends many thanks for his life’s work and career, for without which non of us would be here! Nigel McNair Scott, Chairman, Reaction Engines added, “I met Alan some 45 years ago when he was finishing project Daedalus. I thought he was one of the cleverest men I had ever met and when I had the chance to help him in his business I jumped at it. Working with him has been an inspiration to us all who are interested in space flight and he leaves behind him in Reaction Engines a company that in my view with lead us in getting of this earth. Thank you Alan”.