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.”