The Sabre engine is intended to power a reusable, runway take-off and landing unpiloted spaceplane called Skylon, which promises to put payloads of up to 12t into orbit - and as much as 6 tons to a high geostationary orbit - for 10% of the cost of a traditional rocket launch.
Reaction insists the heat exchanger works, but trials set to run to year-end are needed to demonstrate to waiting investors that the technology is viable. Then, the company says, its investors are ready to release £200 million ($325 million) for a 2012-14 project phase to build an engine demonstrator. If successful, a further £7.5 billion ($10 billion) should be forthcoming to develop the airframe for service from 2020, says the company.
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