Military Review

Skylon getting closer

Skylon (Rus. Skylon) is the name of a promising project submitted by the company Reaction Engines Limited. Within the framework of this project, in the near future, a reusable unmanned spacecraft can be created, which, according to developers, can be used to carry out inexpensive and reliable space flights. A preliminary examination of this project showed that there are no constructive and technical errors in it. According to some experts, the Skylon spaceship will be able to reduce the cost of launching cargo into orbit by about 15-20 times. In recent years, the company has been actively seeking the necessary funding for the development of the project, and it seems that it has found it.

17 July, 2013, the UK government announced its plans to invest money in the development of the new SABER airborne rocket engine. For these purposes, it is planned to allocate almost 60 million pounds (about 91 million dollars). Thanks to this, the most courageous and ambitious space project of the last 10 years has received money for further work and recognition. In the case of successful work on the creation of an innovative power plant SABER, which is a hypersonic combined jet engine and is, in fact, the heart of the spacecraft, Skylon flight tests can begin at the end of this decade.

It is planned that the creation of Skylon will help to make a cheap launch into orbit of cargo weighing up to 12-15 tons. At the same time, the design of this spacecraft is such that it does not have any detachable stages, and the take-off and landing take place in an aircraft mode, which greatly simplifies the operation of the spacecraft.

Skylon getting closer

After ascent into the air from the runway, the SABER powerplant mounted on a spacecraft operates as a hypersonic ramjet. At this time, sea air under very high pressure is delivered to the combustion chamber, in which hydrogen is used as a fuel. In this mode, the engine works until the spaceship accelerates to speed in 5M, and the altitude of the flight reaches 25 km. After that, the power plant goes to work in a rocket mode, using an oxidizing agent in the form of liquid oxygen.

The principle described above can significantly reduce the amount of oxidizer on board; it also saves the spaceship from the need to reset the exhaust stages. But there is still another problem: when the engine is running in the scramjet mode, the air that is fed into the combustion chamber must be compressed to 140 atmospheres. Which, in turn, is fraught with such an increase in the temperature of the process that any of the known earth materials can not cope with this temperature and just melt.

It is this fact, until recently put an end to the creation of the combined engine. However, at the end of 2012, representatives from Reaction Engines were able to present a solution to this problem to the general public. Engineers of the British company managed to create a key element of the new engine SABER - air cooler, which enters the air intake. It is this detailed new combined engine that caused the greatest questions.

The innovative development of Reaction Engines allows you to quickly (just 0,01 seconds) to reset the temperature of incoming atmospheric air from 1000 ˚C to –150 C. It seems incredible, but the engineers were able to demonstrate a similar setup on the prototype. In the pre-cooling chamber, the English engineers used a two-stage scheme “helium gas - liquid nitrogen”. A special heat exchanger with high efficiency is really able to cool the incoming air flow to the required temperature (below the freezing point of water) in a split second. Of course, we have to admit that such heat exchangers existed before, but they had enormous size with a real plant, while the British managed to reduce them to sizes that are suitable for use on a Skylon spacecraft with a maximum length of 84 meters.

About one year ago, Reaction Engines had already reported on successful ground tests of a preliminary version of its cooler. Therefore, most likely, the “bottleneck” of the hybrid engine was overcome. Evidence of this is strong financial support from the British government. With this financial support, an English company can start building a prototype of the SABER hybrid engine, which should be ready by 2017 already.

A revolutionary, in its essence, a spaceship will be able to take off from ordinary runways, which are in any major airport. And the 2 oxygen-hydrogen engine installed on it will be able to deliver it to a height of more than 29 kilometers, and also to bring satellites into low earth orbit. According to preliminary information, the passenger version of Skylon will be able to take on not less than 24 passengers, while the spaceship will not have pilots - the engines, altitude, and thrust will be controlled using a modern computer system. This computer system will also be responsible for the transition to the rocket engine operation when the spacecraft leaves the earth's atmosphere.

With the most perfect situation development, Reaction Engines already expects to begin the tests of the first Skylon spacecraft, which theoretically will get every chance to become a revolution in the entire space industry, in 2020's. In the future, British engineers expect to use Skylon as a transport ship that could deliver astronauts and cargo to the ISS. “Access to space today is incredibly expensive, but there are no laws of physics that say that it should be so in the future. We are well aware that now all this is a bit like science fiction, but at the same time they are firmly convinced that Skylon will be able to prove the opposite to the world by making space travel fairly accessible to everyone, ”said Richard Warvill, technical director of Reaction Engines.

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  1. avt
    avt 12 August 2013 09: 01
    Oh my God ! But how many small Britons have drawn these pictures! request Not that everyone decided to take it seriously !? laughing Yes, they already have practically no aircraft of their own, unlike the Franks, who still abut, and even worse, they have their own cosmodrome.
    1. Constantine
      Constantine 12 August 2013 09: 25
      Quote: avt
      Oh my God ! But how many small Britons have drawn these pictures! Not that everyone decided to take it seriously !? Yes, they already have practically no aircraft of their own, unlike the Franks, who still abut, and even worse, they have their own cosmodrome.

      I don’t believe in the English either. They talk a lot, with their characteristic pomp, but as a result they either don’t do it or some kind of miserable semblance of what they talked about comes out. The only sensible things that they are capable of releasing now are Rolls, Aston Martina, Jaguars and Land Rovers. True, those are not English for a long time. One name and place of assembly remained. sad

      A similar idea by the way was. She was even shown in a space odyssey. Orion 2001 was called.

      1. Aryan
        Aryan 13 August 2013 12: 57
        HOMONATO has a new topic:
        anal n * hello wassat
  2. Nitarius
    Nitarius 12 August 2013 09: 30
    what the Military have Man-made UFOs - I think that many have no doubt.
    another thing that shows the mass audience!
  3. mejik
    mejik 12 August 2013 09: 53
    That we should build a house. Let's draw, we will live ...
  4. il grand casino
    il grand casino 12 August 2013 09: 58
    Star Wars Episode I ... or just such associations get into my head?)))
  5. common man
    common man 12 August 2013 11: 32
    Something tells me that the mass of all these compressors. coolers, helium-nitrogen mixtures, will be higher than the mass required for take-off by rocket oxidizer. While chemical fuels are used, humanity is unlikely to get rid of detachable take-off steps. Maximum will make them reusable. The rest is expensive exotic.
    DEMENTIY 12 August 2013 12: 11
    Troll the British, of course, pleasantly, no doubt.
    The main thing here is not to play too much, or else they began to put the sensors upside down, which is not the weakest reason to go fast!
  7. abrakadabre
    abrakadabre 12 August 2013 12: 48
    For a week and a half the topic pops up a second time
  8. Fastblast
    Fastblast 12 August 2013 12: 56
    I hope that our minds will catch up and overtake, and soon we will again be the first in the exploration of outer space.

    Maybe someone knows, we have similar projects or maybe something even more interesting?
  9. spirit
    spirit 12 August 2013 12: 56
    no! such associations go to your head not only to you)
  10. ben gun
    ben gun 12 August 2013 13: 39
    I believe in the feasibility of an air launch - One Mega snag for this is needed by Mriya AN-225, and Ukrainians have it.
    Threat. Air Force - HOLIDAY !!!! drinks
  11. viktor_ui
    viktor_ui 12 August 2013 14: 16
    Even based on the accompanying comments - Britons - a banana country ... well, well, the dudes smoked a smoke, well, or gentlemen, otherwise you’ll be offended wassat
      DEMENTIY 12 August 2013 14: 30
      Victor, would you criticize a little more! Patriotism based on spitting other people's successes - he's evil !!! :(
      1. viktor_ui
        viktor_ui 12 August 2013 15: 11
        Dima - let the boys and not the boys think maleho in front of the writings, and patriotism is needed with brains, and not with a bullet in the head drinks
  12. pensioner
    pensioner 12 August 2013 17: 52
    I don’t know if they will do it ... But the scoundrels work !! And you won’t remember about our cosmos without tears ... I’m still waiting for a breakthrough something. Yes, I can’t wait on the go ...
  13. bootlegger
    bootlegger 12 August 2013 18: 04
    I love science fiction, but not to the same extent!
    Reduce the delivery of cargo into orbit by 10-20 times, probably only a space elevator can.
    Anyone who thinks otherwise does not understand simple things.
    Any modern space-rocket system always works in extreme mode. And after the first flight it can no longer provide the required level of reliability, even if the system is conditionally reusable. Also, like Formula 1 engines operating in the conditions of maximum afterburner, they keep only a few rides.
    Otherwise, it is impossible to accelerate to orbital speed, this is required by the laws of physics and the limited capabilities of modern rocket power. Operation of equipment in such modes, reliability and its repeated use will not be able to provide. And the cheapness of use is primarily multiple use.
    You cannot make shipping cheap by throwing a truck after every flight.
    So, until there are new energy technologies that have increased the capabilities of rocket technology every 10 times, you can forget about reducing the cost of delivering cargo into orbit.