Wiki-Find: Skylon Spaceplane

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Getting into space has always been an expensive, risky proposition.  Multi-stage rockets are utilitarian, but wasteful and a little expensive.  Reusable space craft like the Space Shuttle can be used for multiple purposes and are of course reusable, but being so complicated, their a bit dangerous and don’t really excel at being either a heavy hauler or simpler than a rocket.

Enter the fully reusable Skylon Spaceplane.  Using special SABRE engines that combine Scramjet engines and liquid fuel rockets.  The craft would fly to the upper atmosphere at speeds of around Mach 5.5 and then use the rockets to make it into space.  The design was fully reusable and could hold payloads 1/3 that of the Space Shuttle.  Other facts about the Skylon Spaceplane

– The design uses about a fifth of the fuel required by current space launches, meaning a lighter take off and landing weight.

– The lighter landing weight is especially important because that makes reentering the atmosphere a safer maneuver to execute.  Less weight means less super hot friction and that means the ship can use a heat resistant ceramic belly instead of the fragile tiles the Space Shuttle uses.

– The craft wasn’t getting much funding in Britain until very recently when the European Union and Britain pledged 1 Million Euros for development of the critical SABRE engines.

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– The reason these pictures don’t show a cockpit is because the current designs are for a pilot-less craft.

– Some estimate that he craft could be refueled, inspected and get a new payload within two days of a launch.

Skylon Spaceplane

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