I spend my last 10 working years at Reaction Engines. As head of test facilities I led the test team running a test site to develop the SABRE engine Pre-Cooler.
The test site has the capability of subjecting
test articles from 1000 deg.C down to -196 deg.C and operating up to
200 bars (2,900 psi).
These test carried out on the test site
demonstrated the first flight capacity heat exchanger to cool the air
down to -150 deg.C without freezing, a world first.
This technology will enable a jet engine to
run at hypersonic
speeds (~Mach 5) this is key technology requirement for the
Space is only about 100 miles away. If you travel by train it would cost you about £1 a mile but with current technology traveling that 100 miles into space would cost you around £10,000 a mile. There are several factors for these high cost which include:
The SABRE Engine
SKYLON is a concept space plane utilising the SABRE engine. It is designed to take off and land vertically on a long runway.
The whole of SKYLON is designed to be fully reusable with a working life of 200 flights. Its mission it to get 15 ton payload into near earth orbit.
Like the space shuttle it is designed to return to earth initially slowing down as it hits the earth’s atmosphere with its heat shield. Then it makes its final decent in a glide similar to the Space Shuttle but because of its superior aerodynamics it has a far wider flight envelope. Anther advantage of the plane design is its launch abort capability.
As with all space vehicles the fuselage (about 300 feet long) is dominated by the fuels but due to its air breathing capabilities it liquid oxygen tanks are a lot smaller.
• Crew: None, remote controlled from ground
• The proposed Skylon Personnel/Logistics Module (SPLM) has provision for a Captain.
• Capacity: 0
• up to 24 passengers in the SPLM
• Potential for up to 30 passengers (in a special passenger module)]
• Payload: 15,000 kg nominal (33,000 lb nominal)
• 17,000 kg (37,000 lb) to equatorial 160 km (99 mi) orbit from equatorial launch site
• approx 2,800 kg (6,200 lb) to 98° (sun-synchronous) 600 km (373 mi) orbit from equatorial launch site
• Length: 83.133 m (272.75 ft)
• Wingspan: 26.818 m (87.99 ft)
• Height: approx 13.5 m (44 ft)
• Empty weight: 53,400 kg (117,000 lb)
• Loaded weight: 325,000 kg (717,000 lb)
• Powerplant: 2 × SABRE 4 synergistic combined cycle rocket engine, 2,000 kN (450,000 lbf) each
• Fuselage diameter: 6.3 m (20.67 ft)
• Maximum speed: Orbital (air-breathing Mach 5.14, rocket Mach 27.8)
• Service ceiling: 28,500 m air-breathing, 90 km SABRE ascent, 600 km exoatmospheric (93,500 ft air breathing, 56 mi rocket ascent, 373 mi exoatmospheric)
• Specific impulse: 4,100 seconds (40,000 N-s/kg)-9,200 seconds (90,000 N-s/kg) air-breathing, 460 seconds (4,500 N-s/kg) rocket, 465.2 seconds (4,562 N-s/kg) orbital
• SABRE engine thrust/weight ratio: up to 14 atmospheric
Engines A space technology company
specializing in heat exchanger and the air breathing rocket engine
UK Space Agency
The UK Space Agency funds a variety of space missions and programmes.
The European Space Agency
The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space. Its mission is to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.