Lets WELCOME Our NEW NASA Space Shuttle Replacement: Skylon
Posted June 10, 2011on:
British and European space agencies have given the go ahead for the development of a reusable spaceplane that’s been under development for 30 years.
- The Skylon will launch like a conventional aircraft and reach low-Earth orbit without the help of expendable (and expensive) booster rockets.
- After 30 years on the drawing board, funding is finally being allocated to this innovative design.
- It is hoped that the spaceplane will make access to space cheaper and more routine.
The Skylon, which is being developed at the UK’s Oxfordshire-based Reaction Engines Ltd., is an unpiloted and reusable spacecraft that can launch into low-Earth orbit after taking off from a conventional runway.
Looking like something out of Star Wars, Skylon is a self-contained, single stage, all-in-one reusable space vehicle. There are no expensive booster rockets, external fuel tanks or huge launch facilities needed.
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The vehicle’s hybrid SABRE engines use liquid hydrogen combined with oxygen from the atmosphere at altitudes up to 26km and speeds of up to Mach 5, before switching over to on-board fuel for the final rocket-powered stage of ascent into low-Earth orbit.
The Skylon is intended to cut the costs involved with commercial activity in space, delivering payloads of up to 15 tons including satellites, equipment and even people into orbit at costs much lower than those that use expensive conventional rockets.
Once the spacecraft has completed its mission, it will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere and return to base, landing like an airplane on the same runway, making it a totally re-usable spaceplane, with a fast mission turn around.