Conceptual study into hypersonic test bed for SABRE technology

May 18, 2020
Conceptual study into hypersonic test bed for SABRE technology

Reaction Engines is delighted to announce the launch of a conceptual study to develop a flying Hypersonic Test Bed (HTB) concept for the in-flight demonstration of SABRE technology.  The study was initiated through the UK Space Agency and will be conducted under the European Space Agency General Support Technology Programme (GSTP).

It involves a consortium consisting of Cranfield Aerospace Solutions (including Cranfield University), Reaction Engines, BAE Systems and Frost & Sullivan.

The purpose of the study is two-fold: Firstly, to identify further potential concepts for a flying test vehicle that will facilitate the demonstration of SABRE technology.  Secondly, to assess the potential competitive positioning of future SABRE-powered applications in the future space transportation segment.

Reaction Engines’ SABRE development will revolutionise and enable horizontally launched reusable space access vehicles that are affordable, reliable, responsive and have high-cadence and payload return options. Such vehicles, enabled by these characteristics, will lower the cost barrier for space-access, in comparison to expendable or partially expendable vertical launch systems.

Shaun Driscoll, Programmes Director at Reaction Engines said, “We’re seriously looking at how we can fly SABRE technology at hypersonic speeds.  That’s an exciting prospect and this study is all about laying the conceptual groundwork, whilst building expertise, to realise that”.

Cranfield Aerospace Solutions (CAeS) is involved in the design, development and manufacture of modifications, maintenance, environmental characterisation and rapid prototyping of new aerospace concepts.

Paul Hutton, CEO of Cranfield Aerospace Solutions said, “It will be critical to prove the SABRE technology on a flying hypersonic testbed, and so CAeS is excited to bring to bear our unique aircraft design expertise to deliver aircraft concepts suitable for the flight test programme.”

BAE Systems provides some of the world’s most advanced aerospace solutions. It is both a recognised prime developer and integrator of fixed wing air systems. The company is a recognised leader in the development of both specific capability and full operational demonstrator aircraft, including EAP (the forerunner to Typhoon) and unmanned platforms such as the Mantis MALE UAS and Taranis UCAS.

Frost & Sullivan is a growth consulting, research and organisational development firm with global expertise in a broad range of sectors serving the private & public sector. Their recognised expertise and experience in research and analysis of the space industry brings valuable market intelligence to the study.

Chris Castelli, Programmes Director at the UK Space Agency, said: “SABRE represents a step change in how future space launches will be powered. This new study brings us closer to seeing the revolutionary engine fly at hypersonic speed which will ultimately have great benefits for the future of space exploration as well as transport on Earth.”

About Cranfield Aerospace Solutions

CAeS is a long-established aerospace company with whole aircraft concept design and EASA/CAA aircraft Design Organisation (DOA) and aircraft Production Organisation (POA) approvals. These capabilities and broad ranging approvals have been built up over more than twenty years, due to being sought out by all the major global aerospace OEMs to carry out modification and demonstrator projects for them.

More information about Cranfield Aerospace Solutions can be found at