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Urwumpe

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But, it's fairly easy to replace compressor blades.

That misses the problem in real airliner operations: It isn't the compressor blades, it is the turbine that will be more vulnerable and expensive to replace. Also the compressor blades are pretty hard to replace, compared to the fan blades of a turbo fan. It is not done by simply opening a hatch, unscrew the old blade and put a new blade there. It is more like the jet engine equivalent to a piston engine head seal replacement - the part costs much less than the work hours needed for only getting the old part removed.

Next, even if the engine would not reach the turbo-fan MTBF, it could still be a success: What counts is the number of flights that the Skylon could fly before components need to be replaced. The Space Shuttle Main Engine did only do 5 flights AFAIR before it needed replacement and expensive inspection and overhaul between flights.

I am pretty sure that this aspect will also make it into the business proposal.

The cooler looks pretty modular to me, I am pretty sure it could be possible to remove one section of the cooler and replace it, and to inspect the cooler tubes by automatic tools in economic time.

A loss of a tube and it entering the compressor section would be the design accident there in my eyes, but how likely is it really? I think leaking of gaseous helium and a related measurable change in pressure drop would be the more likely symptom of cooler erosion... and this could be isolated pretty easy for diagnosis, even in real-time.
 

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-20510112

The UK company developing an engine for a new type of spaceplane says it has successfully demonstrated the power unit's enabling technology.

Reaction Engines Ltd (REL) of Culham, Oxfordshire, ran a series of tests on key elements of its Sabre propulsion system under the independent eye of the European Space Agency (Esa).

Esa's experts have confirmed that all the demonstration objectives were met.

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mikusingularity
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A functional SSTO is very good, but...

If this becomes successful, it seems that conventional rockets will become obsolete. What about every other space agency/company that hasn't caught up yet? Reaction Engines might hold a monopoly on the space transportation industry for a while.
 
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Urwumpe

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A functional SSTO is very good, but...

If this becomes successful, it seems that conventional rockets will become obsolete. What about every other space agency/company that hasn't caught up yet? Reaction Engines might hold a monopoly on the space transportation industry for a while.

I would not say obsolete. The Skylon is no magic bullet, it will compete with rockets. The Grasshopper of SpaceX is also in development. It will become only way more interesting with both concepts.
 

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I would not say obsolete. The Skylon is no magic bullet, it will compete with rockets. The Grasshopper of SpaceX is also in development. It will become only way more interesting with both concepts.
If either Reaction Engines or SpaceX succeeds with their respective programs, wouldn't it create a monopoly on space launches? I've read that such reusability can bring the cost of a launch down much closer to the price of fuel. That's the same reason why tickets to fly on an expensive to buy and maintain commercial jet are affordable.
 

Urwumpe

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If either Reaction Engines or SpaceX succeeds with their respective programs, wouldn't it create a monopoly on space launches? I've read that such reusability can bring the cost of a launch down much closer to the price of fuel. That's the same reason why tickets to fly on an expensive to buy and maintain commercial jet are affordable.

First rule of real engineering: Nothing is immune to wear.

Something will break and need replacement. Something will need to be checked. Something will require regular inspections.

Also, costs is not all in selecting a launcher. What can a Skylon launch into GTO? How is the availability? The payload envelope?

All such considerations will not instantly change, only because a Skylon is there.

And then, the world will not stand still. The Skylon uses the same laws of physics as everyone else. So, it also means, that every other company can increase in effectivity in that time. What if plain old rocket engines could last three times longer in operation than the SABRE engines with the higher technological risk could? What if the shorter burn time per mission for a rocket means that it could even fly more missions if the engines would have the same life-time as a SABRE?

The world is not simple black and white.
 

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BBC article on the Sabre engine:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23332592

The UK government is putting £60m into the revolutionary Sabre engine, but its inventors will need about four times this sum to produce the final design.

Discussions with private investors are now under way to secure the additional funding, says project leader Alan Bond.

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Bit more news:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23590080

A consortium of companies will try to establish the business case for a reusable space plane in a new European Space Agency (Esa) funded study.

The concept under investigation is Skylon, a vehicle proposed by the UK firm Reaction Engines Ltd (REL).

The latter includes examining the type of spaceport needed by the vehicle; and the team will visit French Guiana to see how a Skylon could fly out of Europe's existing launch facility in the territory.

So, Europe has a launch facility, and they are all off on their hollidays to South America. Quite right too, and I hope they have a good time.
Of course it should be done in...

http://www.spaceuk.org/bstreak/bs/cumbria.htm

Now thats a launch site!


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Evil_Onyx

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More good news.

Skylon ‘spaceplane economics stack up’ - BBC

It appears a feasible proposition, economically. That is the conclusion of a study that considered a European launch service based on a Skylon re-usable spaceplane.

The report, commissioned by the European Space Agency (Esa), was led by Reaction Engines Limited (REL) of Oxfordshire with help from a range of other contractors such as London Economics, QinetiQ and Thales Alenia Space (TAS).

It looked closely at how an operator of the UK-conceived vehicle might meet the demands of its market.

Whether Skylon ever becomes a reality depends in large part on the successful development of its Sabre engines, now in the final phase of design and demonstration with REL. To date, Esa's independent audits have found "no showstoppers".

If the hurdle is crossed - and the UK government is providing £60m to help complete the phase - then a Skylon-like vehicle ought to be producible and flying in the 2020s.

As the S-ELSO document states: "Assuming successful development of the Skylon vehicle, it was found that the S-ELSO business could be economic in exploitation and would be very competitive against a price target of 70m euros. It would also be competitive against the 41.5m-euro price target if there is some level of public support for the Skylon vehicle development programme, which would reduce the vehicle acquisition cost to S-ELSO." (The 41.5m-euro target would be the equivalent of an American Falcon 9 launch according to current SpaceX prices.)

What this means is that Skylon manufacturing and operations could be fully commercial, but some sort of lubrication in the form of a public-private partnership is probably going to be needed.
 

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It seems this was a news release in June, didn't see it:


Press Releases from Reaction Engines Ltd.




'Skylon-based European Launch Service Operator' Study Complete

Thursday 5th June 2014

Reaction Engines Ltd announces the completion of the most detailed study to date on the SKYLON vehicle's systems and infrastructure

The SKYLON-based European Launch Service Operator (S-ELSO) study has been carried out in response to the European Space Agency's 'New European Launch Service' requirements for lowering the cost of European launch services in the 2020 – 2040 timeframe. The study was led by Reaction Engines with support from Airbus Defence and Space, Grafton Technology, London Economics, Jacobs, QinetiQ Space, and Thales Alenia Space.

http://www.reactionengines.co.uk/press_release.html

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http://www.reactionengines.co.uk/press_release.html

AFRL Analysis Confirms Feasibility of the SABRE Engine Concept

Wednesday 15th April 2015

Reaction Engines Ltd. is pleased to announce that analysis undertaken by the United States’ Air Force Research Laboratory (‘AFRL’) has confirmed the feasibility of the Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine (‘SABRE’) engine cycle concept.
 

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Exciting stuff indeed!

Especially the transition from air breathing to rocket mode.

I am wondering about the test harness that they are building. Will they simulate the vacuum of space around the engine somehow to test if it can transition smoothly?
 

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This project seems like such a long shot. I really hope it works out. The engine technology alone would be a huge leap.
 

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Frost control is key to success they have said in the past. I hope Skylon gets off the ground, but the Sabre engine would be a big step.

Here is Richard Varvill talking in 2008:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXLb5nY64KY

Some other interesting vids on that page.

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http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-15-5495_en.htm

European Commission - Press release
State aid: Commission approves £50 million UK support for the research and development of an innovative space launcher engine

Brussels, 14 August 2015

The European Commission has found that a £50 million (around €71 million) grant that the UK authorities intend to provide for designing a SABRE space launcher engine is in line with EU state aid rules. SABRE is a research and development (R&D) project carried out by UK company Reaction Engines Limited (REL). The project aims to develop an engine that would power a reusable airframe to launch satellites into low Earth orbit, significantly reducing the costs of such space missions. The Commission found that the measure fosters aerospace R&D in Europe while limiting distortions of competition in the Single Market.

Commissioner in charge of competition policy Margrethe Vestager commented: "I am glad that we have approved public funding for the SABRE project. It supports crucial R&D in the challenging area of satellite launches into low Earth orbit - the most difficult and costly step in any space mission. It can lead to significant technological advances that would benefit consumers using products and services depending on these satellites, such as mobile communications, broadcasting, and navigation."
 
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