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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

Facility to test SABRE air-breathing engine under construction

•, Darren Quick

Construction has now begun on the facility that will be used to conduct the ground test of SABRE's engine cycle.

Ground was broken on the new facility at Westcott Venture Park in Buckinghamshire, UK, last week. The site has a long history in rocket research, formerly being the home of the Rocket Propulsion Establishment, with engines for the Blue Streak missile and Black Arrow rockets both tested there. The goal is to have the new building ready for firing the engine core of the SABRE propulsion system in 2020.

UK-based Reaction Engines Ltd has been working on SABRE for a number of years, with the concept being independently reviewed by ESA in 2010. This led to a £60 million investment from the UK government to aid preparations for the design, manufacture and testing of a demonstrator engine, with ESA announcing its €10 million investment last year.

In early 2015 the concept received a feasibility tick of approval from the US Air Force Research Laboratory, with BAE Systems coming on board later in 2015 through the purchase of a 20 percent stake in the company as part of a commitment to accelerate development of the technology.

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