Dan Dare inspired British firm gets Boeing backing

Artist’s impression of the release of an upper-stage from a next-generation SABRE-powered reusable launch vehicle. The development of the SABRE technology will enable low-cost, high-cadence space access. Image: Reaction Engines
Artist’s impression of the release of an upper-stage from a next-generation SABRE-powered reusable launch vehicle. The development of the SABRE technology will enable low-cost, high-cadence space access. Image: Reaction Engines

Boeing has announced its investment in Reaction Engines Limited, a leader in advanced propulsion systems based in Oxfordshire, United Kingdom.

Reaction Engines’ technology will contribute to the next generation of hypersonic flight and space access vehicles.

Reaction Engines is known for its 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.

“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,” said Steve Nordlund, vice president of Boeing HorizonX.

SABRE-powered reusable launch vehicle
Image: Reaction Engines

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.

Regular downthetubes readers may recall that one of the founders of Reaction Engines, Alan Bond, was one of the speakers at a 2015 British Interplanetary Society event, Yesterday’s Tomorrows, celebrating Dan Dare and the Eagle strip’s part in inspiring the engineers of the future – including him.

“Boeing is a world-leader in many fields, bringing invaluable expertise in hypersonic research and space systems. I am thrilled and honored that Boeing HorizonX has chosen Reaction Engines as its first UK investment,” said Mark Thomas, CEO of Reaction Engines. “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.”

Boeing HorizonX Ventures participated in this $37.3 million Series B funding round alongside Rolls-Royce Plc and BAE Systems. The Boeing HorizonX Ventures investment portfolio is made up of companies specializing in technologies for aerospace and manufacturing innovations, including autonomous systems, energy storage, advanced materials, augmented reality systems and software, machine learning, hybrid-electric propulsion and Internet of Things connectivity.

Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company and leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, space and security systems. A top US exporter, the company supports airlines and US and allied government customers in more than 150 countries.

Boeing employs more than 2,200 people across the UK at numerous sites, and in 2018 the company celebrates 80 years of partnership with British customers, suppliers, manufacturing, the Armed Forces and the air transport industry. Today, the UK remains a critically important market, supplier base and a source of some of the world’s most innovative technology partners.

Reaction Engines Limited

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a "freelance comics operative", working as an editor, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years. His credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel UK and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines. He also edited STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics, including Team M.O.B.I.L.E. and The Beatles Story. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare” for Tian Books. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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