Jump to content



Photo

Scientists unveil plans for a £6bn 'spaceplane'


  • Please log in to reply
55 replies to this topic

#1 Hum

Hum

    totally wAcKed

  • 62,888 posts
  • Joined: 05-October 03
  • Location: Odder Space
  • OS: Windows XP, 7

Posted 12 March 2011 - 01:01

Scientists this week unveiled images of a brand new type of reusable 'spaceplane' they hope will more than take the place of these orbiters and elevate space tourism to new heights.

Skylon is an unpiloted craft that engineers at UK-based manufacturers Reaction Engines claim will provide both cheap and reliable access to outer space.

The 90-metre-long craft's secret weapon is a hydrogen fuel-powered rocket engine called SABRE (Synergistic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine) and was designed by the company's managing director Alan Bond.

Although it is primarily intended to launch satellites, they say the ship, which will carry 30 to 40 passengers, could even pioneer a new era in space tourism.

Currently 80 per cent of the operation is funded by private equity, with the remainder topped up by public funds, including a £800,000 award from the ESA in 2009.

full story

Attached Images

  • spacePlane.jpg



#2 Xerxes

Xerxes

    Neowinian Senior

  • 6,268 posts
  • Joined: 06-January 04
  • Location: Melbourne, Australia
  • OS: Win8.1, OSX 10.9
  • Phone: Galaxy S4 Plus

Posted 12 March 2011 - 01:06

I dunno, how many people are going to be willing to travel in an unmanned spaceplane? I mean I'm sure it's perfectly safe but still..

#3 DocM

DocM

    Neowinian Senior

  • 17,809 posts
  • Joined: 31-July 10
  • Location: Michigan

Posted 12 March 2011 - 04:19

Skylon would not be the first un-piloted passenger carrying spacecraft - that honor goes to Soyuz. It, like its sister Progress cargo version, can be flown by ground controllers - and often has been.

SpaceX's Dragon and Orbital Sciences Prometheus will also be able to do this, but for Prometheus it will be SOP. Dragon's textbook flight last December was completely robotic, involving simulated ISS approaches and numerous orbital maneuvers. Came within 1/2 mile of landing on the recovery ships deck.

Skylon is a very popular discussion topic in the space community, primarily because its SABRE engine could usher in 2 Holy Grail's: Single Stage To Orbit (SSTO) and Flyback Boosters.

A critical part of the SABRE technology is to be tested this summer: a pre-cooler that would generate liquid oxygen from air taken on during flight. This would drastically reduce the Skylon's launch mass.

#4 Xerxes

Xerxes

    Neowinian Senior

  • 6,268 posts
  • Joined: 06-January 04
  • Location: Melbourne, Australia
  • OS: Win8.1, OSX 10.9
  • Phone: Galaxy S4 Plus

Posted 12 March 2011 - 04:45

Skylon would not be the first un-piloted passenger carrying spacecraft - that honor goes to Soyuz. It, like its sister Progress cargo version, can be flown by ground controllers - and often has been.

SpaceX's Dragon and Orbital Sciences Prometheus will also be able to do this, but for Prometheus it will be SOP. Dragon's textbook flight last December was completely robotic, involving simulated ISS approaches and numerous orbital maneuvers. Came within 1/2 mile of landing on the recovery ships deck.

Skylon is a very popular discussion topic in the space community, primarily because its SABRE engine could usher in 2 Holy Grail's: Single Stage To Orbit (SSTO) and Flyback Boosters.

A critical part of the SABRE technology is to be tested this summer: a pre-cooler that would generate liquid oxygen from air taken on during flight. This would drastically reduce the Skylon's launch mass.

Fascinating :)

#5 MindTrickz

MindTrickz

    That's no way to treat a lady!

  • 1,287 posts
  • Joined: 18-September 03
  • Location: Europe:

Posted 12 March 2011 - 05:44

Why the hell would anyone want to go to space in a Cylinder tube without any way of enjoying the view of space and earth?

#6 carmatic

carmatic

    oh cool i can change my member title

  • 6,024 posts
  • Joined: 03-July 04

Posted 12 March 2011 - 05:50

how do you get liquid oxygen out of air? or have i really become this far behind in science and technology...

#7 Edrick Smith

Edrick Smith

    Neowinian Senior

  • 3,199 posts
  • Joined: 14-April 03
  • Location: Boston, MA

Posted 12 March 2011 - 06:13

I'd probably be ****ting my pants with a manned ship to space, let alone an unmanned one. Boy that would be scary. Sorry folks "voice over radio from earth launch control", unfortunately the computer system has failed and we wont be able to return you to earth. Since you won't be coming back we've taken the liberty to empty your bank accounts to fund our project. Have a good one.

#8 Reacon

Reacon

    [VGW] Woohoo!

  • 3,802 posts
  • Joined: 12-May 08
  • Location: Katabatic
  • OS: Win 7 & Slackware

Posted 12 March 2011 - 06:34

how do you get liquid oxygen out of air? or have i really become this far behind in science and technology...


Compression. Condenses the gas into a liquid.

#9 DocM

DocM

    Neowinian Senior

  • 17,809 posts
  • Joined: 31-July 10
  • Location: Michigan

Posted 12 March 2011 - 07:56

Compression heats a gas. To liquify a gas you need to super-cool it.

You super-cool it by rapid expansion after it enters the SABRE's inlet, then liquify it by running it through a staged heat exchanger that uses ultra-cold liquid helium as a working fluid. This also allows for the separation of oxygen and nitrogen since they liquify at different temperatures and also have different densities. SABRE's innovation is doing this with air traveling at hypersonic speed.

The fuel is liquid hydrogen, and combustion occurs in rocket engines at the rear. This combo is used in the 3 main engines of the shuttle and many upper stages because of its high specific impulse (efficiency) if done right.

Before anyone thinks this is just another lightweight outfit, bear in mind it has backing from the UK govt. and tech help from other European agencies. This because it's got a good chance of being a game-changer.

Posted Image

Posted Image

#10 DocM

DocM

    Neowinian Senior

  • 17,809 posts
  • Joined: 31-July 10
  • Location: Michigan

Posted 12 March 2011 - 08:47

Clarification: SABRE does not separate nitrogen and oxygen. I was thinking of a different hybrid cycle unit and its 3 AM :p

Still, the supercooling is how its done.

#11 neoadorable

neoadorable

    Neowinian Senior

  • 10,466 posts
  • Joined: 01-August 05
  • Location: Flyover Country/Pacific Isle

Posted 12 March 2011 - 13:17

oh no Hum you awakened the SABRE beast within Doc...he loves this plane. while i welcome any way of going into orbit and beyond, i personally don't like the aesthetics of it, i'm in love with the Valkyrie shuttle from Avatar, inspired i believe by the X-33. now that was a tough looking spaceplane!

#12 DocM

DocM

    Neowinian Senior

  • 17,809 posts
  • Joined: 31-July 10
  • Location: Michigan

Posted 12 March 2011 - 15:08

Skylon has the aerodynamics. Valkyrie was cool though.

#13 neoadorable

neoadorable

    Neowinian Senior

  • 10,466 posts
  • Joined: 01-August 05
  • Location: Flyover Country/Pacific Isle

Posted 12 March 2011 - 15:14

she was a beauty. but bring on the Skylon, as i always say the more the merrier. i think the shake up in Japan reminds us just how fragile a one-planet civilization really is. plus, correct me if i'm wrong Doc, but there are no earthquakes on Mars...

#14 DocM

DocM

    Neowinian Senior

  • 17,809 posts
  • Joined: 31-July 10
  • Location: Michigan

Posted 12 March 2011 - 15:32

Not Earthquakes, Marsquakes ;)

No landers have had seismic gear to date, but high resolution images indicate marsquakes could well be happening. A study a few years ago concluded its core may still be partially molten, it has faults and surface defects along faults that haven't eroded, indicating that they're recent.

#15 DocM

DocM

    Neowinian Senior

  • 17,809 posts
  • Joined: 31-July 10
  • Location: Michigan

Posted 24 May 2011 - 14:07

UK & European Space Agency tech review looks positive...

http://www.bis.gov.u...-report-pub.pdf

http://www.bis.gov.u...dence-in-skylon

Confidence in SKYLON

The UK Space Agency’s SKYLON technical assessment which was produced by the European Space Agency (ESA) has concluded that there are no significant barriers that would prevent successful continued development of the SKYLON Spaceplane.
>