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Boeing and Rolls Royce Invest $37.5 Million into Reaction Engines

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posted on Apr, 11 2018 @ 11:29 PM
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Reaction Engines, the UK based (originally), company that has been slowly, but surely working towards development of their LACE style engine just got an investment from Boeing and Rolls Royce for $37.5 million. Before you get too excited, that's not very much in the grand scheme of things. They are probably going to need 30x that to get their engine into a final, useable form. This is just Boeing and Rolls Royce putting in their fingers to make sure they get a piece of the pie, if and when the RE guys finally pull it off.

LACE, for those that don't know, means Liquid Air Combustion Engine: you chil the air to being cryogenic and then burn it on the back end in a traditional rocket (presumably with fuel). The Brits and Japanese were hot to trot to use this style engine during the 1980s era race for a Trans Atmospheric Vehicle (TAV). The original British design for the TAV using the LACE engines was called HOTOL. Reaction Engines grew out of that from a few die hards that continued on after the UK gov dumped the project. They settled on the engines as the tough nut that needed cracking and have made some progress in the 30 years since.

The reason I say (originally) with the Brits is that DARPA paid RE a good sum to set up in Colorado. This is probably a dual homing, still in the UK and now also in the US, but RE wasn't a big company, so they may have shipped everything over to this side of the pond.

I should put out a note of caution. Every single presentation I have seen (and others have repeated likewise) about RE's ability to get to orbit has had significant failures. They are assuming some pretty serious breakthroughs in material science to fix their mass fraction problems to allow for orbit achievement. In the interim, the RE LACE would be useful for hypersonic flight, if not SSTO. It could definitely be used as a TSTO pretty easily.

Assuming it works as flight hardware. That hasn't been built yet.

newatlas.com...




posted on Apr, 11 2018 @ 11:55 PM
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It has been my experience that whenever the "Roller" and Boeing jump in big things tend to happen sooner rather than later.

I love this engine design and the possibilities it offers, IF it ban fly.



posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 12:13 AM
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a reply to: Springer

I certainly hope so. We will have to see. I remain skeptical, but interested.

I found a video of the SABRE engine (aka LACE) on youtube.




posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 12:24 AM
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originally posted by: anzha
a reply to: Springer

I certainly hope so. We will have to see. I remain skeptical, but interested.

I found a video of the SABRE engine (aka LACE) on youtube.



Cool animation...

I don't see the layer that would be doing the heat exchange.



posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 12:49 AM
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a reply to: Tempter

There's a heat exchanger in that front section. The article has a better picture of the engine.

Very cool tech.(no pun intended)

From article:


At speeds approaching Mach 5, even the best metal alloys soften and melt, and at hypersonic speeds, the air coming into the SABRE engine has 25 times the force of a Category 5 hurricane and heat like something blasting out of a cutting torch. This means that the incoming air needs to be cooled dramatically, so it passes over a series of ultralight heat exchangers that use the cryogenic hydrogen fuel to cool it down from 1,000° C (1,832° F) to -150° C (-302° F) in 1/100th of a second.




posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 03:48 AM
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I have been watching Reaction Engines for a couple of years, ever since I got interested in Skylon.

Wiki Skylon

The UK has invested in this company, as has the European Space Agency and the US. BAE Systems is also a funder. Now Boeing and Rolls Royce just makes it all interesting.

The challenge for the UK is to keep this company IN THE UK and not allow it to be sucked into some foreign concern.



posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 06:21 AM
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SABRE has been building the next test facility in Buckinghamshire UK,
SABRE UK Testing
Reaction Engines I thought was bought out by P&W a couple years ago and moved to the states.



posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 06:50 AM
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a reply to: anzha

Cool stuff to be sure!

I guess my big question is, I don't really understand the value (strategic or otherwise) of the whole hypersonic flight discussion, particularly in the shadow of available rocket technology. I mean, developing the engine technology is one thing, but then there's the whole part about navigation systems and dynamic flight surfaces thing which complicates the picture exponentially. So the notion this technology could ever function like a traditional 'aircraft' seems pretty far fetched.

What does a hypersonic vehicle accomplish that a rocket can't already do? Plus, rockets are already able to reach orbit, and then return from orbit in another location. Is it just that the hypersonic vehicle would be 'reusable', because we already have that capability in rocketry as well?

ETA...My point about navigation and flight surfaces, just to be clear, is basically this; we already possess technology to guide rockets to a target (in the air, or from orbit and from nearly all points in between). So, the only true value I can see would be to have something which looked and functioned more like an aircraft, being able to take off, perform dynamic aerial maneuvers and land back at the same point. And then there's the whole human physiology thing, the human body can only endure so much force...so this would seem to be only a 'pilot-less' technology, which again makes me wonder why a rocket can't fulfill this same role.

edit on 4/12/2018 by Flyingclaydisk because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 07:02 AM
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originally posted by: Blackfinger
SABRE has been building the next test facility in Buckinghamshire UK,
SABRE UK Testing
Reaction Engines I thought was bought out by P&W a couple years ago and moved to the states.


Sounds like they are on the same site used to develop British rockets just after WW2?



posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 10:08 AM
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originally posted by: Blackfinger
Reaction Engines I thought was bought out by P&W a couple years ago and moved to the states.


That's not the case. Reaction Engines are a private UK company. They have recently set up a subsidiary in the US based in Colorado. They have a strategic partner in BAE Systems.



posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 02:16 PM
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a reply to: paraphi

A bit more information via AvWeek:


News of the latest funding boost comes as Reaction completes assembly of the first pre-cooler HTX and associated equipment for evaluation in the company’s new U.S. TF2 test site at Front Range Airport near Watkins, Colorado. The facility was set up following the award in 2017 of a Darpa contract to test the HTX at airflow temperatures in excess of 1,800F (1,000C), representing inlet conditions at Mach 5. “We will be marrying up the HTX and support equipment later in the year,” Thomas says.

Reaction Engines in the UK meanwhile is continuing to develop the TF1 engine test facility at Westcott, where the first ground-based demonstration of the Sabre rocket engine will take place around the end of the decade. The UK site will incorporate a hydrogen/air-breathing pre-burner to condition the air for core evaluation and is adjacent to a test facility where Reaction’s rocket nozzle tests also have been conducted.


aviationweek.com...

So they are still developing on both sides of the pond. The US gov is looking like it will be a major funder going forward if the tests pan out. There is a long, long ways to go yet, folks. I admire their tenacity though.



posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 05:51 PM
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originally posted by: Flyingclaydisk
a reply to: anzha

Cool stuff to be sure!

I guess my big question is, I don't really understand the value (strategic or otherwise) of the whole hypersonic flight discussion, particularly in the shadow of available rocket technology. I mean, developing the engine technology is one thing, but then there's the whole part about navigation systems and dynamic flight surfaces thing which complicates the picture exponentially. So the notion this technology could ever function like a traditional 'aircraft' seems pretty far fetched.

What does a hypersonic vehicle accomplish that a rocket can't already do? Plus, rockets are already able to reach orbit, and then return from orbit in another location. Is it just that the hypersonic vehicle would be 'reusable', because we already have that capability in rocketry as well?

ETA...My point about navigation and flight surfaces, just to be clear, is basically this; we already possess technology to guide rockets to a target (in the air, or from orbit and from nearly all points in between). So, the only true value I can see would be to have something which looked and functioned more like an aircraft, being able to take off, perform dynamic aerial maneuvers and land back at the same point. And then there's the whole human physiology thing, the human body can only endure so much force...so this would seem to be only a 'pilot-less' technology, which again makes me wonder why a rocket can't fulfill this same role.


The further you want a rocket to travel, the more fuel it needs to carry. Then that rocket needs to burn fuel to transport the fuel it needs to burn later on in the flight. That forms an exponential curve of fuel consumption. Doing this then ends up in two situations; carrying empty fuel tanks needlessly or having to use disposal fuel tanks that are discarded in the atmosphere.

Being able to use atmospheric oxygen halves the amount of fuel needed to transported. Travelling hypersonically through the atmosphere further reduces fuel consumption because aerodynamics can be used to perform lift rather than having to fight gravity all the way. Plus the benefit is that the whole vehicle can be reused.



posted on Apr, 12 2018 @ 06:28 PM
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a reply to: paraphi
Cheers..Which one did P&W get for hypersonics?



posted on Apr, 13 2018 @ 01:14 AM
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a reply to: stormcell

Okay (sort of), but a vehicle inserted to orbit requires no fuel at all to continue moving only to change orientation and correct course, and even a vehicle inserted into 'space' (but not orbit) requires little fuel. These same vehicles can discard their fuel tanks, save for a small amount of fuel for guidance...and still re-enter the atmosphere and hit a precise point.

Granted, they're not reusable, but comparatively speaking an ICBM type vehicle is cheap in comparison to a next-gen hypersonic aircraft. Why does it need to be reusable? Use it once and throw it away. It's not like there's a pilot on board who needs to come home; no human body could endure those forces. Plus, you're not going to be able to carry anything on this hypersonic vehicle, it's going to take 20 years just to get the vehicle itself operational.

I mean, look at the X-37; it's reusable, it's orbital, it's sub-orbital (if need be), it's hypersonic...and if DOD would get their S# together like Space-X they could even reuse the boosters.

Why do we need a hypersonic (non-rocket) vehicle again? In other words, what can a hypersonic vehicle do that the X-37 can't?

Shoot, the X-37 can even carry a payload. But with the hypersonic vehicle they're just still just trying to figure out how to make it go at all.

Note: Full disclosure - I am among the skeptics who do not believe any military on planet Earth has the capability to target and destroy an incoming re-entry vehicle such as a MIRV...or anywhere even close (as in like the next 50 years). Boost phase maybe (and maybe, just "maybe", on orbit...and only then after an established orbit, detailed tracking data and a lucky shot...oh, and you're in exactly the right position and orientation). An offensively launched attack ICBM (out of the blue) that has MIRV's...no way!

edit on 4/13/2018 by Flyingclaydisk because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 13 2018 @ 01:36 AM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

You really can't see the advantage to an air breathing, reuseable hypersonic craft? Seriously?

Orbital craft are predictable. They're going to have fairly precise orbital periods that are easily tracked.

Air breathing designs can be anywhere in a few hours and are unpredictable.

Orbital platforms eventually run out of fuel and come back down. Air breathing platforms can land and refuel, or refuel from a tanker.

They're reuseable because it's a hell of a lot cheaper to spend the money once for a platform than any time you want to overfly somewhere.



posted on Apr, 13 2018 @ 08:10 AM
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a reply to: Zaphod58


Note: sorry for the delay in reply. The ATS 'reply' issues started right when I went to reply last night. What did you do, Z???? Hmmmmmm?? LOL. jk.

(I'll go point by point...because I still can't 'quote').

1. Seriously, not really. Not enough to justify the cost.

2. Yes, orbital craft are indeed predictable, but suborbital craft (like ICBMs) not so much. Besides, look at even the SR-71; what was its turning radius at Mach 2, something like 80-100 miles? What will that radius be at Mach 5? (i.e. starts getting right back into that predictable realm). Plus, just consider how much energy (fuel) it's going to take to change directions with this vehicle (even once, let alone numerous times).

3. And ICBMS can be there even faster than that...like 30 minutes. They are equally unpredictable.

4. Orbital platforms run out of fuel over a far, far, longer period than any atmospheric vehicle will (exponentially longer). Refuel? What are the chances of a hypersonic vehicle being able to slow down enough and maintain stable flight to refuel?? Pretty slim I'd wager. It would be like trying to refuel the X-37 in flight or Space Shuttle in flight. Just about anything that can fly that fast (i.e. Mach 5), won't be able to fly that slow. Plus, just look at the difficulties refueling even the SR-71; if I'm not mistaken refueling was the #1 reason for candidates washing out of the program.

5. Overflight I'll agree with you on. This is probably the single most compelling argument for developing the technology.

edit on 4/13/2018 by Flyingclaydisk because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 13 2018 @ 09:47 AM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

2. That's why the SR-71 mission planned to allow for that. They made, with few exceptions, one pass over the target area, then made their turn and headed back to the tanker. At their altitude and speed they were photographing several hundred miles in that one pass. The new aircraft will do the same thing.

3. And an ICBM sets of every early warning sensor in the world and causes all kinds of fun things. We're discussing an ISR platform here, not a weapons system that can potentially lead to a war.

4. Uhm, they're about as good as the chance that you can slow it down enough to successfully land it, and then take off again. And your satellites run out of fuel over a longer period, as long as you want to look at one area, and nowhere else. Once it's in orbit, it's fixed. Change the orbit too much and you lose the platform quick.

The SR-71 refueling issues were actually not nearly as bad as you think they were. It wasn't an easy aircraft to refuel, but it wasn't so bad that it caused major issues.



posted on Apr, 13 2018 @ 11:45 AM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

I was just going by what some of the actual SR-71 and A-12 pilots have said about refueling the aircraft.



posted on Apr, 13 2018 @ 11:53 AM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

So am I. But there's a huge difference between the SR-71 and what is being talked about now. The SR-71 didn't like low speed much, because the engines were designed for high speed. The new platform is designed for both.



posted on Apr, 13 2018 @ 12:25 PM
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cool pic and story
edit on 13-4-2018 by penroc3 because: (no reason given)



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