Reaction Engines chosen for high-speed transportation concepts under the UK Space Agency’s International Bilateral Fund
Reaction Engines has been awarded funding to further a U.K./U.S. collaboration under the UK Space Agency’s International Bilateral Fund.
  • Reaction Engines has been awarded funding to further a U.K./U.S. collaboration under the UK Space Agency’s International Bilateral Fund.
  • Reaction Engines has chosen Virgin Galactic as the airframe partner for this project.
  • This funding will enable research and development for horizontal launch vehicle concepts utilising air-breathing, hypersonic propulsion technology.
  • The funding programme supports UK ambitions to become a science superpower and build international collaboration to develop innovative technologies.

Reaction Engines is actively pursuing the future of space access through high-speed horizontal launch vehicles with a view to fulfilling critical missions for stakeholders in both the U.K. and the U.S. The project, “Combining innovative UK air-breathing propulsion with US airframe capability for space access” was competitively selected for a Phase 1 award under the UK Space Agency’s new International Bilateral Fund.

Reaction Engines is well known for its development of hypersonic technology focused on air-breathing propulsion. By enabling high-speed flight, well beyond the capabilities of current aircraft systems, Reaction Engines offers a step-change in efficiency compared with conventional rocket propulsion.

Reaction Engines has chosen to work with Virgin Galactic on this project. Virgin Galactic’s unique, reusable, suborbital spaceflight system allows them to fly aircraft to the boundary between air and space. After extensive development, Virgin Galactic recently began commercial operations with monthly flights to space for private astronaut and research customers.

Under the planned bilateral activity, the U.K. and U.S. Companies will explore the combination of their capabilities, potential use-cases, and development paths. Neither Virgin Galactic or Reaction Engines are strangers to the benefits of strong U.S. and U.K. collaboration and this opportunity to engage is in step with Reaction’s strategic mission of developing hypersonic and space access solutions, by harnessing the allied capabilities and a shared vision of the future. This joint undertaking, as supported by the UKSA, elevates this mission to the global stage and has the potential to set the course for future collaboration.

Oliver Nailard, Senior Business Development Manager at Reaction Engines said: “Innovation and collaboration has always been key in progressing our technology. Working alongside Virgin Galactic, a Company already operating spaceplanes, fits our company mission and offers an interesting U.S. opportunity for us to explore.”

Steve Justice, Senior Vice President, Spaceline Programs & Engineering at Virgin Galactic said: “We are seeing the emergent benefits of what the U.S. and U.K can achieve in the joint pursuit of space access and operations. This collaboration with Reaction Engines, studying advanced airframe-propulsion integration concepts, contributes to building a legacy.”


About the International Bilateral Fund

On 8th August the UK Space Agency announced the recipients to receive the first phase of its £20 million International Bilateral Fund investments, which will help UK organisations link up with the US, Canada, Australia, Japan, India, Singapore, South Africa and more to form collaborations that will progress space research and catalyse investment in new technologies.

The International Bilateral Fund is the Agency’s first fund dedicated to building and strengthening international relationships to help advance the UK’s goals in space.

These bilateral partnerships will not only strengthen UK space sector capabilities by drawing on expertise from around the world, but they will ensure the UK, and its world-leading scientists, remain a driving force behind generating a diverse and collaborative global space sector that benefits the world for generations to come.

The full news item can be found here : Pioneering worldwide space partnerships to boost UK Innovation