Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
Space Science

Reaction Engines To Fly Reusable Spaceplane 156

RobGoldsmith writes "Reaction Engines have designed a 'reusable spaceplane' to provide inexpensive and reliable access to space. The Star Wars-looking 'Skylon' reusable spaceplane has already been designed and the team are well into engine testing. They have taken some time out from building spaceships to talk about their background, their goals, and their recent engine tests. This article shows new images of their STERN Engine, an experimental rocket motor which explores the flow in Expansion Deflection (ED) nozzles. They also discuss their Sabre air-breathing engine technology. View the Skylon Spaceplane concept, the STERN Engine and much more in this in-depth interview with the team."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Reaction Engines To Fly Reusable Spaceplane

Comments Filter:
  • SR-710? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mateorabi ( 108522 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @02:17AM (#26413931) Homepage
    Actually I see more of an SR-71 Blackbird with a fat tail. Can really see it here [] from above.
  • Re:Space Elevator (Score:3, Insightful)

    by khallow ( 566160 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @02:26AM (#26413981)

    Do not want shuttle 2.1. Do want Space Elevator. Now get to work.

    Are you personally picking up the tab for this space elevator? Even an RLV doesn't have much of a business case to be made. There simply isn't that much demand. A space elevator needs a lot more demand than has been demonstrated to exist. A reasonable plan is to build up the demand to the point that exotic launch systems make business sense. Not develope the exotic launch system and hope someone will use it.

  • Re:Space Elevator (Score:5, Insightful)

    by barc0001 ( 173002 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @02:33AM (#26414015)

    You know, the day Sputnik went up hardly anyone was thinking about a commercial use for space, and now look at us. Space has definitely become a "build it and they will come" scenario. If you make payload lifting even cheaper, there will be more customers because things that didn't make sense before suddenly start to.

  • Re:Dollars per kg? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by khallow ( 566160 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @03:46AM (#26414317)
    Problem here is that they don't (like virtually everyone in the business world) throw out costs for the launches themselves. Still a development budget of $10 billion indicates to me that they're expecting operating profit to be somewhere around $1-2 billion a year. Suppose they make a profit of $10 million average per flight (that's $1000 profit per kg or so). That means 100-200 flights per year. If the profit is only a tenth that, then they have to make 1000-2000 flights a year.
  • The Internet (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @04:02AM (#26414371) Journal

    How many "2.0" Internet businesses exist only because of the unexpected consequences of humanity building the largest peer based computer network in existence?

    Slashdot itself, and other newcomers like Netflix "on demand" only exist because of the Internet. Did we build the Internet so that we could stream "Superman" in real time, or argue politics with people from around the world?

    No. but they all happened because we built the Internet!

    So build it! Society will profit in ways we can't today imagine today any more than Bob Metcalfe imagined Slashdot when he co-invented Ethernet!

  • Re:Dollars per kg? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by khallow ( 566160 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @05:17AM (#26414683)

    THe hard part is that we did this already; The shuttle had the same issue.

    The Shuttle had serious issues aside from lack of demand (it would take the entire US launch market to achieve the design launch rate of 50 launches per year for the Shuttle). Particularly, the 1-2% failure rate and the monstrous overhead. These guys are hoping that they can get the operating costs down to a very cheap level, achieve a high reliability rate, *and* that the launch market will improve significantly to the point that by the time the vehicle flies, they can find enough demand for the vehicle.

  • Re:Space Elevator (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cowmonaut ( 989226 ) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:08AM (#26416225)

    And what pray tell does that have to do exactly with what the OP said, of "if you build it they will come"? No one said this stuff had to come immediately. The space shuttle is the first re-usable spacecraft the US created. Many of the first escort fighters (Allison-engined P-51 mustangs [] didn't live up to expectations either, nor did the first assault rifle for the US (M-16 before they lined the barrel and chamber with chrome []).

    First and early attempts rarely tend to their tasks as well as people hope or require. Typically you have to go through several revisions while the old models are still "in the field" as it were. Really the only difference is the expense of space exploration. NASA has been able to do some slick stuff on a low budget since the 60's or 70's, but its been a hamper.

    You mention no one has gone back to the moon in the last few decades. What, may I ask, exactly would you have them do there? They still have the moon rocks from Apollo. We've gotten pretty handy with a spectrometer, being able to tell chemical compositions of planets and stars light-years away. What exactly were they to do there besides build a telescope, which we have easily done in orbit anyways (see Hubble []).

    The economics of space exploration are slowly changing to make it as feasible as deep ocean exploration (which is also hurting from lack of interest, outside of oil companies). The politics of it are leading to like what? Three manned missions from countries outside the US? I believe Russian, India, and China were all discussing targeting the southern end of Luna.

    Anyways, manned space exploration will continue to happen and eventually we will colonize other planets. The pace of space is different. The amount of resources it takes to leave Earth and head for another system are unlike anything we've had to deal with before. The distances likewise, with it easier to measure it light-seconds and light-minutes or AU within the solar system than kilometers.

    How long has it taken humanity as a whole to explore the bulk of the dry surface of Earth? You do realize I hope that there are large uncharted tracts of land. This is why we still discover new species as we cut down the rain forests. And don't even get me started on the sea, we don't even know what all is living in our oceans and can't even reach the bottom in some places.

    Personally I say do as much as we can from remote without sending people out as possible. Saves lives, saves money, saves time. Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are still sending information back occasionally. They haven't left the solar system entirely yet. In the last 10-15 years we've uncovered more information about our solar system than in the previous hundred. We're learning more about all the planets every day, and we haven't been sending out people.

    May as well find out what we can know before sending someone out since we may not have too many shots to do so.

Whenever people agree with me, I always think I must be wrong. - Oscar Wilde