Universities and science minister David Willetts announced £60m of government investment to develop Reaction Engines' SABRE technology at the UK Space Conference in Glasgow today.
UK space company Reaction Engines will receive the £60m funding boost to develop their SABRE rocket engine.
The British-designed propulsion system is seen as having the potential to revolutionise air travel and reduce the cost of reaching space.
The SABRE technology could create 21,000 high value engineering and manufacturing jobs as well as maximise the UK’s access to the £13.8bn launcher market and drive growth in related technology areas.
Mr Willetts hailed a new era of opportunity in space technology.
“The space industry contributes over £9 billion to the economy every year and supports tens of thousands of highly skilled jobs. But to meet our target of capturing ten per cent of a growing world market we must harness new opportunities in new areas of space.
“SABRE has the potential to completely transform how we access space. By supporting this breakthrough technology we are giving the UK a leading position in a growing market of new generation launchers and removing one of the main barriers to the growth of commercial activity in space.”
Reaction Engines founder and research leader, Alan Bond, said:
“This significant investment in British high-tech technology is a fantastic shot in the arm for the UK aerospace and space sectors, as well as the broader economy.
“Thanks to the Government’s support, Reaction Engines Ltd – a private company, and a great example of British enterprise – will now be able move to the next phase in the development of its engine and heat management technology, bringing much-needed jobs and investment to the UK.”
“Our proven revolutionary technology is the result of two decades of hard work and has the potential to change the world just as the jet engine did.”
The investment in the UK space sector was augmented by the announcement that space technology company Astrium has been awarded a £134m contract to develop instruments for the next generation of weather satellites.
The contract win is a direct result of increased UK investment in the European Space Agency (ESA) and will be led by a team at the company’s Portsmouth site.