Skylon Spaceplane

On the post I made about the Dream Chaser spacecraft, Steve Morris called my attention to the Skylon Spaceplane.  It takes off as a plane, but has an jet engine that can switch into rocket mode, allowing it to rocket into orbit.  It reenters much as the shuttle did, but still has enough fuel to land as a plane.

Many companies appear to have given up on single state to orbit designs (SSTO), but not British company Reaction Engines Limited.  If they succeed, they may drastically reduce the cost of getting into orbit, and that could be a major game changer.

Of course, the proof will be in the pudding.  But I’m glad to see all this innovation going on in the space industry.  It seems to bode well for the future of human spaceflight.

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10 Responses to Skylon Spaceplane

  1. aopg71 says:

    Hi There again. I remember this from way back. Thank you for picking up this technology and concept. It just makes you wonder why it did not pick up the traction the concept deserved. Really interesting that you should have featured both it and the movie to accompany it. Thank you.

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  2. Ignostic Atheist says:

    Music reminds me of 40’s propaganda.

    How does that beast survive reentry?

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    • Steve Morris says:

      As I understand it, It’s designed to have a relatively high drag so that it slows at higher altitudes where the air is thinner. It would reach about 1000K in contrast to the 2000K of the Space Shuttle. The construction is a carbon fibre shell with a protective ceramic skin.

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      • I’ve been thinking about this. I suspect that what they’re doing is coming in at a shallower angle, which doesn’t decelerate them down as much, hence less heat, but that’s ok for them since they’ll be under controlled flight in the atmosphere. Unlike the Dream Chaser, shuttle, and capsules, they don’t need to slow down to parachute or glider speeds, only to a low enough hypersonic speed where their engine can switch into jet mode and guide them from there.

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    • Agreed on the music. Toward the end it gets better, evoking 2001 a space odyssey.

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  3. Steve Morris says:

    Thanks for the mention! I’m pretty excited about Skylon. Is it the coolest-looking spaceship ever? A bit like Thunderbird One!

    The engine has been tested successfully, and the company has some initial funding. I hope that it secures the investment it needs to make this thing a reality. It’s unmanned by the way – the benefits of which you discussed in a recent post.

    If we could get use Skylon to get stuff into space cheaply, then all kinds of possibilities open up.

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