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Scientists unveil plans for a £6bn 'spaceplane'


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#16 +M2Ys4U

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Posted 24 May 2011 - 18:36

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?

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.


This is for cargo, not passengers


#17 DocM

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Posted 24 May 2011 - 19:03

This is for cargo, not passengers

Uhhh....no.

Skylon has been designed to be modular, and one option is s crew/passenger module.

http://www.reactione...v56_118-126.pdf

Link....

Passenger Module

The SKYLON payload bay is 12.7m long, 4.6m wide and 4.6m high. During normal satellite delivery operations, the bay would carry an interchangeable payload container. When used for passenger transport, an alternative pressurised, self-contained module could readily be fitted between flights. This module would provide a breathable atmosphere and additional life support for 30 or 40 passengers. Under the floor of the cabin, part of the space is needed for life support equipment, with the rest available for passenger baggage and cargo.

Cabin Layout

The central feature of the module is the transfer airlock, used for docking to a space station and for in-orbit transfer between vehicles. Normal ground access is by means of two side doors in the module, which line up with doors in the exterior of the SKYLON fuselage. Passengers would enter and exit using normal airport airbridges.

In case of a ground emergency, e.g. runway overshoot, passengers would exit the cabin through these doors and make their way to the ground by conventional inflatable chutes. The cabin also has two toilet cubicles, operating along the lines of those found on the Russian 'MIR' space station.
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#18 Growled

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Posted 24 May 2011 - 19:53

Fascinating stuff. Thanks for keeps us abreast of it all, Doc. :)

#19 +M2Ys4U

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Posted 24 May 2011 - 21:53

Uhhh....no.

Skylon has been designed to be modular, and one option is s crew/passenger module.

http://www.reactione...v56_118-126.pdf

Link....

heh, looks like I was wrong then... oh well.

#20 DocM

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 19:51

Suggest renaming this thread to "Skylon spaceplane updates" or something like it as progress is starting to move.

The target is for Skylon to be operational around 2020.  

Latest tech progress report on the SABRE engine and Skylon spaceplane. More companies & ESA involved, airframe design etc.

Link....(PDF)

Also, a possible lunar infrastructure that Skylon could haul to orbit.

Link....(PDF)

#21 DocM

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Posted 29 December 2011 - 05:29

Latest Skylon update. Work's progressing well

http://www.stfc.ac.u...entation_13.pdf

#22 DocM

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 01:56

New Flight Global article on Skylon highlighting new materials they're using and its aerodynamics.

Also: the team has expanded from just a few core researchers to around 300+.

Flight Global....

Skylon space plane places huge demands on exotic structural materials

Engine technology may be key to realising the Skylon space plane, but its airframe is also critical, and possibly just as ambitious. The 87m (285ft) long design, with 25m wingspan, calls for fuselage and wing load bearing structures made of carbon fibre reinforced plastic with an external shell of a fibre-reinforced ceramic that carries only aerodynamic pressure loads transmitted to the fuselage structure through flexible suspension points.

The shell, only 0.5mm thick and corrugated for stiffness, is free to move under thermal expansion, especially during the latter stages of the aerodynamic ascent and re-entry. Revolutionary materials and structures include silicon carbide reinforced glass ceramics and silicon carbide reinforced titanium struts.

Reaction Engines' lead designers, Alan Bond and Richard Varvill, note with pride that their Skylon design has now had its re-entry aerothermodynamics modelled and tested using computational fluid dynamics by DLR, the German space agency. The modelling, they claim, proves the craft can re-enter, though it may need cooling along the hotter parts of its angular design.

So different is the Skylon shape compared to its blunter predecessors - NASA's Space Shuttle and the Soviet Buran - that Bond goes so far as to claim the DLR re-entry studies "have shown the hypersonic aerodynamics textbooks need to be rewritten".


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#23 neoadorable

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 14:59

thanks for the heads up Doc! looking good and of course rooting for them, although the unmanned part puts me off a little...plus every time i hear the name Skylon i think "by your command". that should be its default computer voice.

#24 DocM

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 22:46

It's not just unmanned - the central mission module can be swapped out to carry cargo, crew, or both.

IIRC if configured for all crew it could hold about 40 with an airlock and docking system. No space destionations for that many folks yet, but Skylon could do it.

#25 neoadorable

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 14:20

wow that is impressive! then i'm very happy development is proceeding. the timeline holds. by the 2030s we WILL be a proper spacefaring species!

#26 Vice

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 14:40

Sure looks cool and that engine looks innovative. Exciting.

I am curious though how does it move once it goes outside our atmosphere where theres no air for its engines does it then switch to a conventional rocket?

#27 DocM

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 20:32

The SABRE engine is a combined cycle rocket, not a jet or scramjet.

At high speeds in the atmosphere it breathes air, liquefying it on the fly to support combustion in the rocket thrust chambers (several per engine.) At liftoff & low speeds and outside the atmosphere it uses stored liquid oxygen stored in internal tanks. This minimizes liftoff mass while maximizing the payload mass.

In both cases the fuel is liquid hydrogen stored in low boil-off tanks in the airframe.

#28 neoadorable

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 23:21

this is a very complex and awesome approach to engines. how cost effective is this? how much is the Skylon supposed to carry? Forty people with equipment would be quite hefty!

#29 DocM

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 00:27

It should carry 20+ metric tons of payload (think: a Russian Proton) with costs limited to payload integration, maintenance and fuel, which are the cheapest parts of orbital spaceflight. Throw-away hardware is the expensive part, which is why SpaceX is doing the Grasshopper research.

If they pull it off it'll be a really-big-deal.

Just to keep diagrams up with the story - here's a longitudinal section of SABRE and the fluid cycles. The critical component is the pre-cooler, which is made up of the 4 silver cylinders in the sectional image.

Attached Images

  • sabre-section-horizontal.jpg
  • sabre_cycle.jpg


#30 neoadorable

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 14:52

the curved design of the engine is interesting...but 20 tons isn't much for a ship that big!