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back to article Brit Skylon spaceplane moves closer to lift-off

The European Space Agency (ESA) has chipped in €1m to study the viability of the Skylon spaceplane concept - a radical single stage to orbit (SSTO) vehicle whose motors use "a synthesis of elements from rocket and gas turbine technology". Artist's representation of the Skylon. Pic: Reaction Engines The Skylon According to the …

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Childcatcher

Had the UK only invested more generously in this earlier

Instead of bailing out banks and the financial ponzi moneylenders. Here's a way to leave a lasting impact on science, engineering and technology.

God, I feel like a BBC commentard sometimes!

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Re: Had the UK only invested more generously in this earlier

I absolutely agree - More than just 'Thought Leadership'; something tangible and of a positive benefit to the UK.

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Boffin

Re: Had the UK only invested more generously in this earlier

Sadly for science investments, hindsight is 20:20. To invest in Sabre more generously earlier would have been to invest in 50 other suggestions that look promising at the time but end up nowhere.

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Big Brother

Re: Had the UK only invested more generously in this earlier

Well, it's still pork. But at least it's tasty pork.

Make some sausages!

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Boffin

Re: Had the UK only invested more generously in this earlier

"Instead of bailing out banks and the financial ponzi moneylenders. Here's a way to leave a lasting impact on science, engineering and technology."

Well has you bothered to read the press release you'd know the money comes from ESA, not the BNSA.

It's a charming idea but the REL core staff had plenty of that when they were part of the UK launcher industry and Concorde.

They don't want to be a government project, with the "men from the ministry" always sniffing round and foisting their agendas on the programme.

This money is about starting to firm up the whole business case and hardware story IE Skylon, the Upper Stage to tranfer comm sats to GEO (recommended by the ESA fasability study) and the nuts and bolts of a serious piece of concrete for the takoffs (Skylons burn so much propellant it's been stated they can land on grass after a successful orbital delivery).

BTW Skylon is high risk in a way that, say, HS2 simply is not.

It is also high return.

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Re: Had the UK only invested more generously in this earlier

If you'd bothered to read the article;

"Following testing, the ESA gave the precooling system the thumbs-up in November last year, prompting the British government to stump £60m towards the construction of a full SABRE prototype."

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Re: Had the UK only invested more generously in this earlier

Other than HS2 is a complete waste of money!

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Alien

The Skylons are coming!

Help us, OB1! You're our only help!

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Joke

Re: The Skylons are coming!

For the love of gods get your fracking pop-culture references right!

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Re: The Skylons are coming!

So say we all!

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Re: The Skylons are coming!

The Skylon pre-dates pop culture.

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Frakking Skylons

It is good that it's getting cheaper and more convenient to put satellites in orbit.

The one doubt I have is that sometimes people involved in spacey type stuff seem to imply that there really isn't that much room out there and we are already starting to jam up orbital space with random junk. Is that actually going to be a problem with more and more delivery systems available?

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Re: Frakking Skylons

Given the possibility of much more frequent LEO excursions, I guess it would be possible to schedule fairly regular trash collections...

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Go

Re: Frakking Skylons

More affordable delivery systems makes launching systems to de-orbit junk more affordable. We just need to work out the space law as to who pays for this service...

Why isn't there a $DOLLAR icon?

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Boffin

Re: Frakking Skylons

A fair proportion of "space junk" exists because:

a) all of our delivery methods leave a fair amount of waste up there as part of the launch - a reusable system like this wouldn't do that

b) it's too expensive to clean up after ourselves - this could potentially change all that

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Re: Frakking Skylons

I guess it would be possible to schedule fairly regular trash collections...

I have an idea.

It's on YouTube if you're curious. Lousy video quality but watchable.

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Re: Frakking Skylons

Easily fixed:- http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064691/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

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Holmes

Re: Frakking Skylons

> schedule fairly regular trash collections...

Sounds like the mob will be barging into that line of business, then.

Why not?

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Re: Frakking Skylons

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planetes

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Roo
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Can you get a refund if a Carrier is not fit for purpose ?

Because at the end of the day Skylon is looking more likely than an armed war plane taking off from the new carriers that BAE are building for us.

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Holmes

Re: Can you get a refund if a Carrier is not fit for purpose ?

Isn't that "not building for us"?

What's happening to the F-35? I hear rumors of "F-35 a shit", "unfit" and "cancellation"...

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Re: Can you get a refund if a Carrier is not fit for purpose ?

Who needs carriers and war plans if you have space. ROCK FIGHT!

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HOTOL

I'm still waiting for HOTOL.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HOTOL

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Re: HOTOL

Skylon is the successor to HOTOL though hopefully it has more luck in being implemented.

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Re: I'm still waiting for HOTOL.

Skylon pretty much is HOTOL, or at least it's spiritual successor - from the wiki article you linked:

In 1989, HOTOL co-creator Alan Bond formed Reaction Engines Limited (REL) which has since been working on the Skylon vehicle intended to solve the problems of HOTOL.

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Re: HOTOL

Skylons co-founder, Alan Bond, was the co-creator of HOTOL - in fact, the core Skylon team are al ex-HOTOL engineers.

Skylon is basically HOTOL that might actually work.

Steven R

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Godspeed guys, this looks like it could be a great thing.

What the HELL happened to reg comments? The indentation isn't a bad idea, but columns two words wide? Really?

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FAIL

I think it's a Firefox thing (Chrome and IE work fine for me); they could probably use another data point though, so email them with the details: http://www.theregister.co.uk/Page/problem.html

(Occasionally you see weird line breaks in the articles as well.)

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Has anyone noticed the similarity in shape between this and the spaceships in the 1950's classic science fiction film "When Worlds Collide" (and films of similar ilk).

Whenever I see pictures of this thing, I have flashbacks to when I saw the film as a five-year-old on TV, as the people desperately raced to escape planet Earth as imminent doom threatened :)

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Though I guess they both look similar to V1 Doodlebugs...

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Good, isn't it?

About time we had a rocketship that looks like a rocketship.

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Meh

"Has anyone noticed the similarity in shape between this and the spaceships in the 1950's classic science fiction film "When Worlds Collide" (and films of similar ilk)."

Well strictly it resembles the AVRO 730 M3 reconnaissance bomber designed in the mid 1950s but cancelled by that rampant cockhoud idiot Duncan Sandys. Engines on tip pods and IIRC the forward canard.

However most people go for the SR71, but the engines are mid wing and the canted twin tails.

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Anonymous Coward

Think of the rest

So how will this technology be used to change the world? (i.e. Can we use this for commercial travel?) What about the unforeseen advancements from the technology.

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Re: Think of the rest

"Can we use this for commercial travel?"

That'd be a yes......

LAPCAT A2

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Think of the rest

"What about the unforeseen advancements from the technology."

They're, erh, unforeseen at the moment

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Happy

AC@14:07

They're, erh, unforeseen at the moment

Although Alan Bond has indicated that they taking another look at the heat exchanger mfg technology.

This was too expensive for F1 teams to use, despite the much smaller size radiators that would result (there's a lot of stuff that needs cooling on an F1 car. Much more so than your civilian motor).

He estimates they can cut the cost 5-10x.

For a rather pedestrian idea this would give a domestic GCH boiler about the size of a VHS video cassette.

Beyond that who would benefit from a very compact high efficiency heat transfer system?

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Boffin

Re: AC@14:07

"Beyond that who would benefit from a very compact high efficiency heat transfer system?"

Better than a Peltier you mean?

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Re: Think of the rest

Skylon could be the de Havilland Comet of spaceplanes - but only in a good way, I hope.

(at its time there was nothing like Comet, the Avro Canada C102 Jetliner was a jet transport design but it doesn't look the part. )

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Re: AC@14:07

F1 teams can *afford* a lot more than they're allowed to spend by the racing rules.

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Meh

Re: AC@14:07

Better than a Peltier you mean?

AFAIk the conversion efficiency (electrical power in to energy you can remove from the load) is <10%.

That's rubbish by most standards. They are handy for compactness and no moving parts (including a collant fluid if you have the power system to sustain them.

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Meh

LAPCAT A2

That looks ominously like something that needed help from International Rescue back when I was a nipper.

Thunderbirds are go!

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Gimp

Keep the government (and EU), out if it.

Every time they get involved in something, eight noughts are added to the right of the original cost.

Now, where is my old Dan Dare pace helmet??? Oh, I suppose this one will do for now.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Keep the government (and EU), out if it.

Nonsense. They can print the zeros. Exactly why they should fund high risk, wide reward, engineering advancement.

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MJI
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I just want to see it fly

This would be good, last time space was really exciting was in the early 70s.

Aircraft, why are museum pieces better to watch than in service stuff?

(Think Vulcan, Concorde, SHAR)

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Re: I just want to see it fly

Yeah, saw Vulcan XH558 flying at a small show in Welshpool a couple of months back. God, they're magnificent beasts!

And we have to rely on charity to keep it flying. http://www.vulcantothesky.org/

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Re: I just want to see it fly

and don't forget the B-70 Valkyrie and Skylon's spiritual father, the SR-71 (well, for the dual-mode engine tech, at least)...

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Re: I just want to see it fly

...the B-70 Valkyrie and Skylon's spiritual father, the SR-71...

I don't know where you get your history from, but I'm guessing that it's somewhere west of the Atlantic?

The Skylon (and its 'predecessor', HOTOL, are developments in air-breathing hybrid jet/rocket technology.

The B-70 and, to a lesser extent, the SR-71 are fast top-of-atmosphere jets using wave-rider technology. Quite a different thing. Wave-rider technology was invented by Terence Nonweiler, of Belfast University and later St Andrews. Another Brit.

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Re: I just want to see it fly

"I don't know where you get your history from, but I'm guessing that it's somewhere west of the Atlantic?"

Sounds likely.

"The B-70 and, to a lesser extent, the SR-71 are fast top-of-atmosphere jets using wave-rider technology. Quite a different thing. Wave-rider technology was invented by Terence Nonweiler, of Belfast University and later St Andrews. Another Brit."

Sorry but AFAIK the SR71 used fairly conventional aerodynamics with the shock wave forming ahead of the wing (the sweep angle gives the actual maximum speed based on supersonic theory).

The XB70 used an idea developed by a Dr Eggers of NACA (at the time) he called "compression lift," but I suspect it's certainly moving into waverider territory.

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All that space junk could form a shield against some space rocks

Use this to attach remote controls to the junk

With enough junk, the planet would have a roof, and cool down, would it still rain?

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I forsee a teensy problemette...

...The ultimate aim is to make the Skylon system truly 100 per cent reusable. Italy's Thales Alenia Space (TAS) is mulling the secondary propulsion unit, and the hope is that this will, after delivering its satellite, make its way back to the spaceplane for return to base. ...

The secondary propulsion unit, if it's a rocket, will need to impart a load of extra energy to the payload. That energy will ALL have to be bled off in some way if the rocket is to return to the Skylon. In other words, you will need twice the impulse power.

Of course, if the Skylon SHOT the payload into a higher orbit, the reaction force would slow the Skylon down, and assist it to re-enter. That seems to me to be a much better use of the energy budget...

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