Hypersonic spaceplane company building test facility with DARPA funding

Reaction Engines has begun construction of a new high-temperature airflow test facility where it plans to validate the performance of its precooler heat exchanger technology, an enabler of its revolutionary SABRETM engine. Located at the Front Range Airport near Watkins, Colorado, the test facility will be capable of exposing the precooler test article (HTX) to high-temperature airflow conditions in excess of 1800°F (1000°C) that are expected during high-speed flights up to Mach 5.

Reaction Engines, Inc. recently received a contract award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to conduct the HTX tests, which are designed to build upon previous successful testing of the precooler heat exchanger at ambient temperature conditions.

“This new test facility shows our commitment to rapidly prove our precooler technology in the most compelling test campaign possible,” said Dr. Adam Dissel, President of Reaction Engines Inc. “The facility’s ability to deliver controlled temperature profiles over flight-like run durations at significant airflow represents a unique capability that can fill additional testing demand beyond HTX.”

The project is an additional investment by Reaction Engines into ground test facilities. The company is progressing rapidly on the previously announced TF1 engine test facility in the United Kingdom where the first ground-based demonstration of its revolutionary SABRE™ air-breathing rocket engine will take place. The Colorado test facility, named TF2, consists of a test building and a control room located on the east side of the Front Range Airport. The hot air for the testing will be provided by a modified afterburning jet engine configured to produce a wide range of flowrates and temperatures.

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