Saturday, September 24, 2011

Skylon spaceplane

NextBigFuture post on Feb 7 , 2011

This looks like a promising SSTO concept. It really looks like a flyable rocket. It combines rocketry with jet engines in an all-in-one package, which confers reusability and fast turnaround potential via mass reduction. Mass is your number one enemy in getting to orbit. The more mass, the more propellant needed.  Since propellant itself has mass, this increases the mass penalty even further, and so on.

Consider the now retired Space Shuttle: it's liftoff mass was 4.47 million pounds, with a payload capacity of 53000 pounds.  The the liftoff mass to payload mass ratio was 83 to 1.  On the other hand, the proposed Skylon does much better - 23 to 1.

The Skylon people hope it can be reused up to 200 times.  Presumably, since it will take off and land like a plane, it should have a fast turnaround time.  Thus, it promises to fulfill what Elon Musk of SpaceX once described as the Holy Grail of rocketry.

I will study the pdf file about it and report more on this as I learn more.

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