Tuesday, August 19, 2014


It looks like something out of Battlestar Galatica with the free flying ability in the planet’s atmosphere not to mention the same abilities plus, while in space. 

Like a large jet airplane, Reaction Engines’ SKYLON will place a Personnel and Logistics Module in its payload bay, capable of carrying 8 astronauts and their gear to Low Earth Orbiting stations, factories, hotels or other facilities.


The Space Plane being referred to is a British space plane concept, SABRE to be exact. The US Air Force Research Lab has been studying hypersonic vehicles that would use SABRE – the Synergetic Air Breathing Rocket Engine. This is an engine which the English company Reaction Engines Ltd is working on to power the Skylon space plane. The AFRL is formulating plans to review advanced vehicle concepts which are based on Reaction Engine’s heat-exchanger technology and the SABRE engine concept.

But is the US is more than studying it? In a world where the commercial sector is often looked to for many advances of the various forms of military while the military powers either US or British provide testing, some modeling, oh, and money but in return there are certain milestones that must be met. Bond, Alan Bond and his team of engineers at Abington, England – the home base of Reaction Engines, estimates that SABRE’s heat-cooler is at a readiness state of 5 on the NASA scale of 1-9. (NASA descriptions of the scale at the ‘5’ mark means complete and thorough testing in a sample testing environment. NASA and the ESA or Britain have long collaborated with regard to science and technology especially major sectors that the UK has pursued such as the aerospace, motor, and pharmaceutical industries. Back to the money and milestones. Actually the money, or about 60 million is from the UK government and similar to NASA, they are requiring that the Reaction Engines meet milestones to receive those funds. BUT is that all? All that Bond is willing to talk about at present; Though he does admit a dialogue does exist across the Atlantic. Good thing – this plane is really awesome!


Back when the UK had its own space program (remember the satellite called ‘Prospero’ – it was the last they launched) that space program was in Westcott. About an hour drive from Reaction Engines headquarters it is in Westcott that in 2019 they hope to test two SABRE engines.


Want details of the Skylon? Read on. Skylon is a SSTO (Single Stage to Orbit) – AND it is fully reusable, something that is of late rather cutting edge. The belief is that staging causes a number of problems from expense to waste products tat either can’t be found or are tumbling around in orbit. 


Skylon’s design features a tremendous cylindrical payload bay that is about 13 meters by 16 meters. What does that mean? Well, the design is comparable to current payload dimensions and with the weight it can carry (easily 15 tons) satellites could be delivered or specialized habitations perhaps, maybe carry 30 astronauts…the actual dynamics are more than astounding, they are endless!


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