Author Topic: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)  (Read 419669 times)

Offline Alpha_Centauri

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #1660 on: 07/12/2016 07:57 PM »
At this rate perhaps we should Brexit more often... ;)

Anyway I don't know if this has been discussed previously but the Beeb has more about a tie-up with small-sat launcher project Orbital Access Limited to get flight data with scaled down versions of SABRE.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-36773074
Edit; the article above appears to have been edited, it previously mentioned that "The Sabre/Prestwick feasibility study is receiving a £250,000 grant from the UKSA."

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-36773074
I've never heard of Orbital Access Limited before.

And I'm very surprised that they think SABRE is scalable down to that sort of size.

IIRC the big issue remains the LH2 pump due to the still high chamber pressure needed, although SABRE 4 seems to offer a possible much lower pressure chamber for the pure rocket mode.

This opens possibilities.

Keep in mind that due to its nature REL will probably need to consider the whole nacelle carrying it as well. That strongly suggests work in fibre reinforced SiC or some kind of RCC, of which there are a number of mfg in Europe, notably in Germany.

Me neither, it's a new outfit that is intending to be the operator running out of a future Prestwick Spaceport, apparently they are sourcing a DC-10 for an air-launch system.

http://www.orbital-access.com/our-projects.html

Remember the work done by Strathclyde on alternative Skylon designs?
« Last Edit: 07/12/2016 07:59 PM by Alpha_Centauri »

Offline knowles2

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #1661 on: 07/12/2016 09:03 PM »
At this rate perhaps we should Brexit more often... ;)

Anyway I don't know if this has been discussed previously but the Beeb has more about a tie-up with small-sat launcher project Orbital Access Limited to get flight data with scaled down versions of SABRE.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-36773074

Quote
But because the engine technology is considered scalable, Reaction Engines announced at Farnborough that it is also joining a consortium to look at the feasibility of putting reduced-sized power units on smaller vehicles that could run out of Prestwick airport.

Orbital Access Limited is the company behind the effort to turn the Scottish aviation centre into a spaceport. It is already working with BAE Systems - a major shareholder in REL - to turn a DC10 into a flying platform from which to launch rocket-carrying satellites.

It is keen to see if it is possible to piggyback additional launch services on some of the future test flight models that Reaction Engines will build to further develop Sabre.

"What this study aims to do is to look at those vehicle concepts and evaluate which sorts of configurations can yield commercial payload capabilities," explains Orbital's CEO Stuart McIntyre.

"If you take a Sabre test engine, put wings on it and go fly it, all you'll get is some engineering answers. But if we do these flight tests in a certain way, where you plug a top stage to these vehicles, it may then be possible for REL to get their air test data and for us to launch payloads."

Edit; the article above appears to have been edited, it previously mentioned that "The Sabre/Prestwick feasibility study is receiving a £250,000 grant from the UKSA."

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-36773074
Wonder if that means Prestwick has now become the favourite to host the UK spaceport.

Offline knowles2

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #1662 on: 07/12/2016 09:12 PM »
At this rate perhaps we should Brexit more often... ;)

Anyway I don't know if this has been discussed previously but the Beeb has more about a tie-up with small-sat launcher project Orbital Access Limited to get flight data with scaled down versions of SABRE.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-36773074
Edit; the article above appears to have been edited, it previously mentioned that "The Sabre/Prestwick feasibility study is receiving a £250,000 grant from the UKSA."

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-36773074
I've never heard of Orbital Access Limited before.

And I'm very surprised that they think SABRE is scalable down to that sort of size.

IIRC the big issue remains the LH2 pump due to the still high chamber pressure needed, although SABRE 4 seems to offer a possible much lower pressure chamber for the pure rocket mode.

This opens possibilities.

Keep in mind that due to its nature REL will probably need to consider the whole nacelle carrying it as well. That strongly suggests work in fibre reinforced SiC or some kind of RCC, of which there are a number of mfg in Europe, notably in Germany.

Me neither, it's a new outfit that is intending to be the operator running out of a future Prestwick Spaceport, apparently they are sourcing a DC-10 for an air-launch system.

http://www.orbital-access.com/our-projects.html

Remember the work done by Strathclyde on alternative Skylon designs?
Quote
THE FSPLUK PROJECT
Conscious that future systems will need to employ the new technologies that are in development the FSPLUK project is a collaboration led by Orbital Access Limited that combines Reaction Engines Limited's SABRE technology with BAE Systems aero-design capability and the leading hypersonic research and trajectory design and optimisation capabilities of Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities to define a road map of new vehicle developments to provide next generation small payload launch vehicles and the air test vehicles required to finesse the development of the SABRE engine. The project also incorporates the UK's leading small satellite manufacturers SSTL and Clyde Space and incorporates their future needs as a primary design imperative for the roadmap. As such the FSPLUK project defines Orbital Access's product development pipeline and integrates the UK industrial base required to realise that product roadmap. The specific outputs targeted by the project is an initial horizontal small payload launch system in service by 2020 with a fully reusable system in service by 2030. The technical and operational learning from these system developments will lay the foundation for the delivery of Skylon in the long term.


To me they sound like someone that has the intention of being the company that builds Skylon and the prototype vehicles needed to test the engines and technologies needed to support Skylon. In fact it reads very much like they intend to be the type of consortium Reaction Engines always wanted to build Skylon, why they presumably refocus completely on developing and building the engines

 Unless I'm reading that wrongly. This is another company to keep a close eye on over the next few years. Sadly no mention of who is financially backing them, beyond the 250k UK Space Agency have given them.

« Last Edit: 07/12/2016 09:20 PM by knowles2 »

Offline Alpha_Centauri

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #1663 on: 07/12/2016 09:26 PM »
It's a small start-up that looks to be largely an operator procuring systems rather than a manufacturer.  I can see them operating a small BAE-developed skylon-derived prototype TSTO small-sat launcher.  They would not be a Skylon manufacturer.

As for the spaceports, recently there was a disappointing change in policy where the government will only license spaceports rather than patronising a particular site.
« Last Edit: 07/13/2016 02:13 PM by Alpha_Centauri »

Offline knowles2

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #1664 on: 07/12/2016 11:10 PM »

As for the spaceports, recently there was a disappointing change in policy where the government will only license spaceports rather than patronising a particular site.
That a shame, they kept that announcement pretty quiet.

Offline Asteroza

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #1665 on: 07/12/2016 11:20 PM »
How much does this feed back into the AFRL work, considering the USAF may be interested in TSTO (see XS-1)? Is BAE effectively going to sell Orbital Access Ltd's TSTO as a manufacturer?

Is REL now resigned to doing an reduced NTV-esqe vehicle with the associated non-transferrable LH2 pump work, in order to get operational experience at altitude?

An interesting byproduct of such a smallsat TSTO is that it would effectively cement the UK as the leader as far as a vertically integrated marketplace, with smallsat parts manufacturers, whole smallsat manufacturers, and launch services as ITAR unrestricted brands would be backing such a marketplace.

Offline oddbodd

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #1666 on: 07/13/2016 04:08 AM »
ESA on SABRE:

http://tinyurl.com/zuerv9z (was a massive ESA URL, so shortened it).

Maybe it's just me, but that announcement rubs me the wrong way. It's "ESA did this", "ESA did that". Poor ol' REL are lucky to be in the presence of such giants! /s I honestly have no idea of ESA's real level of contribution to the project till now, but it just sorta gives the impression that it's ESA who got it to where it is now, and REL have made some minor contribution. You know, like all the actual engineering!

I shouldn't be so churlish though. At least there's progress  ;D

Offline john smith 19

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #1667 on: 07/13/2016 06:33 AM »

Maybe it's just me, but that announcement rubs me the wrong way. It's "ESA did this", "ESA did that". Poor ol' REL are lucky to be in the presence of such giants! /s I honestly have no idea of ESA's real level of contribution to the project till now, but it just sorta gives the impression that it's ESA who got it to where it is now, and REL have made some minor contribution. You know, like all the actual engineering!
First rule of PR.

The organisation that writes the press release emphasises it's work.

Actually by getting ESA involved to act as a monitor they have done something which (AFAIK) no other newspace company (that does not have an independent backer) have succeeded in doing.

Getting the technical arm of a recognized space agency to look in detail at their design and confirm it will do what they say it will do.

This is one of the key problems with getting commercial funding, sometimes known as "My cousin at NASA," because "My cousin says if it was that good NASA would be doing it."

Readers of this site should be well aware there are in fact many reasons why major space agencies will not support anything outside the mainstream with anything more than the most limited funding.
Quote
I shouldn't be so churlish though. At least there's progress  ;D
If you want to be churlish blame the UK govt and the EU for taking 3 years from George Osbornes announcement. At that point it was going to be a loan which had to be repayed. In the meantime BAE have bought up a significant chunk of the company for a fairly low cost.

Had the money come through faster REL might have remained more independent.
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

Offline Star One

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #1668 on: 07/13/2016 07:25 AM »

Maybe it's just me, but that announcement rubs me the wrong way. It's "ESA did this", "ESA did that". Poor ol' REL are lucky to be in the presence of such giants! /s I honestly have no idea of ESA's real level of contribution to the project till now, but it just sorta gives the impression that it's ESA who got it to where it is now, and REL have made some minor contribution. You know, like all the actual engineering!
First rule of PR.

The organisation that writes the press release emphasises it's work.

Actually by getting ESA involved to act as a monitor they have done something which (AFAIK) no other newspace company (that does not have an independent backer) have succeeded in doing.

Getting the technical arm of a recognized space agency to look in detail at their design and confirm it will do what they say it will do.

This is one of the key problems with getting commercial funding, sometimes known as "My cousin at NASA," because "My cousin says if it was that good NASA would be doing it."

Readers of this site should be well aware there are in fact many reasons why major space agencies will not support anything outside the mainstream with anything more than the most limited funding.
Quote
I shouldn't be so churlish though. At least there's progress  ;D
If you want to be churlish blame the UK govt and the EU for taking 3 years from George Osbornes announcement. At that point it was going to be a loan which had to be repayed. In the meantime BAE have bought up a significant chunk of the company for a fairly low cost.

Had the money come through faster REL might have remained more independent.

Or you might regard their investment as a vote of confidence and providing a strong backer. Independence maybe over-rated in this case.

Offline topsphere

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #1669 on: 07/13/2016 01:37 PM »
Just hope Brexit doesn't blow this whole project off course.

It was an internal European Commission review that delayed the £60m government grant to REL by several years. I don't want to take the thread off topic again but if this experience is anything to go by, it will drastically speed up any state funds REL may receive.

Offline Mutley

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #1670 on: 07/13/2016 01:48 PM »
Was anybody at the Reaction Engines presentation at the Farnborough international Airshow today? 

Have seen some slides on twitter including a new image of a ground test engine.

Offline knowles2

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #1671 on: 07/13/2016 05:18 PM »
How much does this feed back into the AFRL work, considering the USAF may be interested in TSTO (see XS-1)? Is BAE effectively going to sell Orbital Access Ltd's TSTO as a manufacturer?

Is REL now resigned to doing an reduced NTV-esqe vehicle with the associated non-transferrable LH2 pump work, in order to get operational experience at altitude?

An interesting byproduct of such a smallsat TSTO is that it would effectively cement the UK as the leader as far as a vertically integrated marketplace, with smallsat parts manufacturers, whole smallsat manufacturers, and launch services as ITAR unrestricted brands would be backing such a marketplace.
I think REL is resign to what it always wanted to be a engine maker. I think BAE will now take over the design of any vehicles that use the engines REL produces, and we won't see any new work from Reaction Engine on Skylon, that will either all come out of BAE or another company or consortium at a later date.

Offline Star One

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #1672 on: 07/13/2016 05:54 PM »
How much does this feed back into the AFRL work, considering the USAF may be interested in TSTO (see XS-1)? Is BAE effectively going to sell Orbital Access Ltd's TSTO as a manufacturer?

Is REL now resigned to doing an reduced NTV-esqe vehicle with the associated non-transferrable LH2 pump work, in order to get operational experience at altitude?

An interesting byproduct of such a smallsat TSTO is that it would effectively cement the UK as the leader as far as a vertically integrated marketplace, with smallsat parts manufacturers, whole smallsat manufacturers, and launch services as ITAR unrestricted brands would be backing such a marketplace.
I think REL is resign to what it always wanted to be a engine maker. I think BAE will now take over the design of any vehicles that use the engines REL produces, and we won't see any new work from Reaction Engine on Skylon, that will either all come out of BAE or another company or consortium at a later date.

Surely that plays to their strengths.

Offline francesco nicoli

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #1673 on: 07/20/2016 08:57 AM »
So, on Friday Richard Varvill will deliver a Skylon Update to the BIS conference. What are they likely to say, and what would you want them to say?

Want them to say?

"we secured (X) customers who have put refundable deposits on our books so we can finally move towards airframe maker selection & speed up ground testing. We will deliver on schedule."

jokes aside, I would like them to develop over recent remarks that the ground test article is going to be "much cheaper originally expected". Is it due to cutting on costs, or is it due to early conservative estimates?
if the latter, is there any hope that (1) the already-confirmed cost reductions for the ground test articles are applicable to the real engines, and that (2) the overall cost estimates are equally conservative?


Offline t43562

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #1674 on: 07/20/2016 10:09 AM »
So, on Friday Richard Varvill will deliver a Skylon Update to the BIS conference. What are they likely to say, and what would you want them to say?

I expect a restatement of what we know already with a big fuzzy area around anything that might involve the AFRL or BAE systems.

What they should say:

What about the plumes issue?
Did they pick SABRE4 yet ?
How did they make their demo engine cheaper?
What's with this Orbital Access deal? How can it possibly help them? Surely it would have to take full scale SABRE engines since they can't be made smaller? Or would it just test nacelles or other aspects of the technology?
How are they getting along with designing the various heat exchangers (other than the precooler)?

Offline Soundbite

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #1675 on: 07/20/2016 12:35 PM »
Quote
What's with this Orbital Access deal? How can it possibly help them? Surely it would have to take full scale SABRE engines since they can't be made smaller?

If you look at reaction engines update it quite clearly states the engine is highly scalable
Quote
...enable the development of a ground based demonstrator of SABRETM, a new class of aerospace engine which is highly scalable with multiple potential applications in hypersonic travel and space access.
see http://reactionengines.co.uk/news_updates.html

When reaction engines built the pre-cooler demonstrator in 2012, Alan Bond stated that they were originally going to use 3 pre-cooler modules in front of the viper engine, however they didn't have enough funds to do that.  They only had enough funds to use 1 pre-cooler module and that is what they went with.

IMHO I think that Alan Bond and Reactions Engines had originally planned for a 'Rolls Royce' Development programme, but reality is now setting in and they have to go for the cheapest development programme they can get away with that proves what they need to prove.

I have always thought that a £12 Bn development programme was just too expensive.  TBH I think the cost of the design and development should be halved to £6 Bn.  There are a whole new bunch of technologies that should help them reduce the cost since they first calculated the programme cost....  much more detailed and accurate advanced design & simulation software... 3D printing etc....   It is obvious to me that, that is why they have employed Mark Wood to focus on reducing costs
Quote
...Chief Operating Officer & Engineering Director, with responsibility for operational leadership, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the business through integration, collaboration and operational best practices.

Offline knowles2

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #1676 on: 07/20/2016 12:54 PM »
So, on Friday Richard Varvill will deliver a Skylon Update to the BIS conference. What are they likely to say, and what would you want them to say?

Want them to say?

"we secured (X) customers who have put refundable deposits on our books so we can finally move towards airframe maker selection & speed up ground testing. We will deliver on schedule."

jokes aside, I would like them to develop over recent remarks that the ground test article is going to be "much cheaper originally expected". Is it due to cutting on costs, or is it due to early conservative estimates?
if the latter, is there any hope that (1) the already-confirmed cost reductions for the ground test articles are applicable to the real engines, and that (2) the overall cost estimates are equally conservative?
Could it also be because BAE will be providing a lot of the components without profit margins and sale tax. VAT is 20% cost reduction alone.
« Last Edit: 07/20/2016 12:57 PM by knowles2 »

Offline t43562

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #1677 on: 07/20/2016 01:39 PM »
Quote
What's with this Orbital Access deal? How can it possibly help them? Surely it would have to take full scale SABRE engines since they can't be made smaller?

If you look at reaction engines update it quite clearly states the engine is highly scalable ..

That is not at all what we have been told in the past - the typical issue that gets brought up being the cost of designing small hydrogen pumps.  So that would need clarification too.
« Last Edit: 07/20/2016 01:40 PM by t43562 »

Offline john smith 19

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #1678 on: 07/21/2016 07:33 AM »
Describing something as "highly scalable" doesn't preclude a minimum size. The current SABRE design is based around the Skylon D1 requirements, which are larger than the C2, those larger than the C1. the D2 requirements are driven by a commercial launch sweet spot, so while a desktop SABRE is not practical, a half-size one may be.
A 1/2 size Skylon would still be a very big beast indeed.
Quote
It's my understanding the sub-scale demonstrator they are now proposing rather than being a full working engine, demonstrates the full cycle - e.g by being pressure fed instead of having the final engines fuel pumps
When did you see that information? Pressure fed was being talked about when Mark Hempsell was still with REL.

I'll note that what we know about SABRE 4 suggests it runs 2 separate combustion chambers (one inside the other?) If so they could run at substantially different chamber pressures. Chamber pressure, and hence head rise, is the problem with LH2 pump scaling.  If the ground tests run just past the air breathing / rocket transition (which they should because it's a key even) you might have a low(ish) pressure turbo pump for the air breathing then simulate the high pressure rocket part (briefly) with a pressure feed to demonstrate that with those flows and pressures cut over is smooth and controlled, even if it only runs a few seconds after switching to full rocket mode.

Quote
What's with this Orbital Access deal? How can it possibly help them? Surely it would have to take full scale SABRE engines since they can't be made smaller?

If you look at reaction engines update it quite clearly states the engine is highly scalable ..

That is not at all what we have been told in the past - the typical issue that gets brought up being the cost of designing small hydrogen pumps.  So that would need clarification too.
Indeed.

I'd say there are a couple of ways those first few sentences found their way into the press release.

1)REL's PR is poorly vetted and loosely worded.  Not impossible. REL's never been that keen on talking to outsiders for the sake of doing so.

2)REL have reviewed their options and their funding and concluded scaling is not quite the issue they thought it was.

Which is of course much more interesting. Richard Varvills update to the BIS should be a hot ticket.
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #1679 on: 07/21/2016 07:38 AM »
IMHO I think that Alan Bond and Reactions Engines had originally planned for a 'Rolls Royce' Development programme, but reality is now setting in and they have to go for the cheapest development programme they can get away with that proves what they need to prove.
It's always been the cheapest development plan they can implement.
Quote
I have always thought that a £12 Bn development programme was just too expensive.  TBH I think the cost of the design and development should be halved to £6 Bn. 
The problem with that is what's called "Aerospace cost models." or Coste Estimating Relationships.  When backers do due diligence to decide if an idea is sensible they get someone to run one of these.

When they do so for a vehicle of 625 tonnes and about 15 tonnes payload out pops the £10Bn figure. When they run a similar model for the SUS it comes up about £2Bn. Hey presto£12bn.

Now when NASA ran the SX development programme through the favorite US version (IIRC up to the first F9 flight, and including the F1 series) it came up with $2Bn  :(

As you might guess these models institutionalize decades of cost plus government aerospace project overruns and government procurement practices, however they are what a banker would base their estimate of the size of the bag of cash needed to fund a project this size.  Anyone coming in with a figure substantially below the  model before doing the work would "clearly" have failed to factor in important parts of the project, otherwise their figure would be much closer to the model.

This means a)Raising that money will be very difficult b)If they succeed they should have substantial contingency funds to deal with unexpected problems.
Quote
There are a whole new bunch of technologies that should help them reduce the cost since they first calculated the programme cost....  much more detailed and accurate advanced design & simulation software... 3D printing etc....   It is obvious to me that, that is why they have employed Mark Wood to focus on reducing costs
Quote
...Chief Operating Officer & Engineering Director, with responsibility for operational leadership, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the business through integration, collaboration and operational best practices.

Quite probably. You should also include the many collaborations that REL have undertaken with all sorts of people to raise the TRL of different parts of the design. REL are very good at leveraging partnerships.

I'm quite sure that having spent so long on this REL have a very well developed model of what they need to do and a "ground up" model of (roughly) what the real costs would be.

But that's just based on their collecting actual costings for the various parts of the task, whereas the CERs
(supposedly) pick up all the real world unexpected things that happen on lots of real projects. And SABRESkylon is sufficiently not a rocket or an aircraft that you cannot rely on the real (needed) budget being 1/5 what the model said SX's budget needed to be for the F1 and F9 programmes.

I believe the CER's for SABRESkylon are very conservative (most of the big vehicles in the data base will be large passenger aircraft, with lots of issues related to them carrying fare paying passengers from day 1 of their entering scheduled service) and run as a commercial programme the "Skylon Consortium" (whoever they turn out to be) can deliver Skylon at substantially less than the model cost.

But there's what I believe and what can be demonstrated through the CER and that's £10bn for SABRESkylon and £2bn for SUS.

IOW "Model says no."  :(

« Last Edit: 07/21/2016 07:46 AM by john smith 19 »
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

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