Author Topic: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)  (Read 421936 times)

Offline Citizen Wolf

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #340 on: 05/31/2015 04:33 PM »
I think these patent applications are an interesting development. Why have REL decided to submit patents when previously they said they wouldn't?

My guess is that it may have had to do with securing funding. Perhaps a major potential investor said they'd only invest if they felt that they could protect their investment from being upstaged by copy-cat designs ie have the technology protected by patents.
The only thing I can be sure of is that I can't be sure of anything.

Online t43562

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #341 on: 05/31/2015 08:33 PM »
I think these patent applications are an interesting development. Why have REL decided to submit patents when previously they said they wouldn't?

My guess is that it may have had to do with securing funding. Perhaps a major potential investor said they'd only invest if they felt that they could protect their investment from being upstaged by copy-cat designs ie have the technology protected by patents.

Another aspect is that they have to start thinking about who will make the bits. If they can't make absolutely everything themselves then it may be hard to hide all their secrets. Inference might be enough to help someone guess in the end.

Another aspect is that the more people they hire, the harder it has to be to ensure that no secrets could ever leak out.  Someone leaves the company, having stumbled across something they should not know, for example.  What can you do in such a case?

Another aspect is that the more interest they generate, the more attention they attract, the more some other clever people may be able to work out what they are doing anyhow.

Finally, I can't imagine that REL haven't been the targets of some degree of espionage.   Would any country with strategic interests in space not at least want to know if they were onto a good idea? The patents will at least make it clear what REL really did invent so that copycats can be sanctioned in some way.

Offline Soundbite

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #342 on: 05/31/2015 09:38 PM »
Reaction Engines has just posted a news update on Mark Thomas joining the Board http://www.reactionengines.co.uk/news_updates.html

Offline john smith 19

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #343 on: 06/01/2015 10:33 AM »
Another aspect is that they have to start thinking about who will make the bits. If they can't make absolutely everything themselves then it may be hard to hide all their secrets. Inference might be enough to help someone guess in the end.
In some ways the simplest motivation is that it can be done at all encourages people to try finding out how.
Quote
Another aspect is that the more people they hire, the harder it has to be to ensure that no secrets could ever leak out.  Someone leaves the company, having stumbled across something they should not know, for example.  What can you do in such a case?
Other business have been built on trade secrets. Whitehead's torpedoes worked on them. The disk drive business was built on the ability to coat the platters with a magnetic layer. The precise details of this process used by each mfg have always been a closely guarded set of techniques, as both the chemistry and the morphology of the layer is critical. typically a new entrant would hire key staff from existing players to acquire this information.
Quote
Another aspect is that the more interest they generate, the more attention they attract, the more some other clever people may be able to work out what they are doing anyhow.

Finally, I can't imagine that REL haven't been the targets of some degree of espionage.   Would any country with strategic interests in space not at least want to know if they were onto a good idea? The patents will at least make it clear what REL really did invent so that copycats can be sanctioned in some way.
Logically yes.

Practically the most effective protection has probably been that people have been obsessed with SCRamjets, to the point they simply don't think it's possible for this to work, and  if it is, to deliver the performance claimed.

While that was the consensus I doubt anyone could be made to try intelligence collection.

That position should be changing and I hope REL will plan accordingly.

I'll remind people that it's one thing to explain what has to be done. It's quite another to explain how it's done. 
« Last Edit: 06/01/2015 10:49 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.

Offline aameise9

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #344 on: 06/04/2015 04:39 PM »
Reaction Engines has just posted a news update on Mark Thomas joining the Board http://www.reactionengines.co.uk/news_updates.html

Bump.  Perhaps some of our Brits would care to comment?
« Last Edit: 06/04/2015 04:40 PM by aameise9 »

Online t43562

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #345 on: 06/05/2015 05:17 AM »
Reaction Engines has just posted a news update on Mark Thomas joining the Board http://www.reactionengines.co.uk/news_updates.html

Bump.  Perhaps some of our Brits would care to comment?

I don't know anything special but there's a more extended biography of him here:

http://aerosociety.com/Events/Event-List/1577/Rolls-Royce-future-developments-in-engine-technology

Rolls Royce has been making people redundant recently, though from what I read these are precision machining jobs.  I do also remember reading that they planned to spend a bit less on research after something of a "splurge" recently.  So based on those two things you could make a guess that some interesting work could have been cancelled and SABRE development might seem attractive compared to what's left at Rolls. I know absolutely nothing about it and am speculating utterly.

The other speculation one could make is that he is being sent out as part of a kind of "deal" a bit like the Microsoft-Nokia thing with Stephen Elop. I only mention it because I experienced it.  I don't know whether that would be a cheering thing or not. At least you can say that RE includes some people who have worked for Rolls Royce so presumably they know each other at least by reputation and that increases the possibility of things happening.

Here is a quote of the link above:
Quote
Mark Thomas, CEng, FRAeS

Mark is Chief Engineer for Technology and Future Programmes in the Rolls-Royce Civil Large Engines Business. He leads the Engineering teams responsible for the exploration and concept design of next generation propulsion systems; also the execution of system level demonstrators to deliver innovative technologies meeting future product requirements.

In 2014 Mark will celebrate 25 years with Rolls-Royce, joining the Company in 1989 as a sponsored Undergraduate trainee before completing an Engineering degree at Queens’ College, Cambridge University.

Mark’s career started in the Rolls-Royce Defence Aerospace Business and he has completed a variety of Engineering and Management roles located in the UK and Germany.

Notable roles have included Chief Development Engineer for the EJ200 (Typhoon) Engine, Programme Executive for UK Defence Research and Technology, Chief Engineer for the EJ200 (Typhoon), RB199 (Tornado) & Adour (Hawk/Jaguar) engine programmes, and Technical Director of the Eurojet Turbo GmbH consortium based in Munich.

As a Chief Engineer in Defence, Mark was responsible for the support of around 3,000 engines worldwide with 25 Military Operators ranging from the US Navy to Royal Australian Air Force.

In 2009 Mark moved to the Civil Aerospace Business in Derby to take up the role of Chief Engineer for the Trent 900 (Airbus A380), leading the team during an especially challenging three year period for the programme, working closely with Airbus and Airline Customers.

Mark is a Chartered Engineer, Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and also a Governor of a flourishing Engineering Academy. He mentors a number of engineers in Rolls-Royce and is a key member of the Rolls-Royce Senior Engineering Leadership team.

Mark is married with two teenage sons and one daughter and lives in Leicestershire. Outside work he enjoys skiing, travel and reading.

Offline oddbodd

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #346 on: 06/07/2015 01:49 AM »
The other speculation one could make is that he is being sent out as part of a kind of "deal" a bit like the Microsoft-Nokia thing with Stephen Elop. I only mention it because I experienced it.  I don't know whether that would be a cheering thing or not. At least you can say that RE includes some people who have worked for Rolls Royce so presumably they know each other at least by reputation and that increases the possibility of things happening.
Nokia had serious problems with timely delivery and was in need of a good shake-up. However Stephen Elop was either a trojan with a not-so-secret mission to devalue Nokia to the point where Microsoft could buy it for peanuts, or he was a grotesquely incompetent charlatan being paid obscene amounts for negative results! Under his tenure every metric went drastically down; revenue, profit, unit sales, share price. For this he was rewarded with $18m bonus and a new VP position at Microsoft. Even now, after the purchase by the 800-lb gorilla and the associated benefits that brings, I still rarely see Nokia/Windows phones in the wild here in Germany/UK.

I think Bond and co. are experienced enough (and wary enough) to avoid a debacle like Nokia's happening to REL. However I don't think they (Bond & Thomas) overlapped at RR so I sincerely hope there isn't some kind of predatory nature to Mark Thomas' appointment. It would be tragic for some Machiavellian skulduggery to strangle the Skylon in utero. Skylon may fail to fly, but if so that should be because very clever people failed to make the science work; not because some manager looks at some numbers in a spreadsheet, and decides to burn the place to the ground to "rescue" it.

Offline Star One

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #347 on: 06/07/2015 08:12 AM »

The other speculation one could make is that he is being sent out as part of a kind of "deal" a bit like the Microsoft-Nokia thing with Stephen Elop. I only mention it because I experienced it.  I don't know whether that would be a cheering thing or not. At least you can say that RE includes some people who have worked for Rolls Royce so presumably they know each other at least by reputation and that increases the possibility of things happening.
Nokia had serious problems with timely delivery and was in need of a good shake-up. However Stephen Elop was either a trojan with a not-so-secret mission to devalue Nokia to the point where Microsoft could buy it for peanuts, or he was a grotesquely incompetent charlatan being paid obscene amounts for negative results! Under his tenure every metric went drastically down; revenue, profit, unit sales, share price. For this he was rewarded with $18m bonus and a new VP position at Microsoft. Even now, after the purchase by the 800-lb gorilla and the associated benefits that brings, I still rarely see Nokia/Windows phones in the wild here in Germany/UK.

I think Bond and co. are experienced enough (and wary enough) to avoid a debacle like Nokia's happening to REL. However I don't think they (Bond & Thomas) overlapped at RR so I sincerely hope there isn't some kind of predatory nature to Mark Thomas' appointment. It would be tragic for some Machiavellian skulduggery to strangle the Skylon in utero. Skylon may fail to fly, but if so that should be because very clever people failed to make the science work; not because some manager looks at some numbers in a spreadsheet, and decides to burn the place to the ground to "rescue" it.

The whole thing is pretty baseless speculation and the Nokia/Microsoft business was done to death at the time in the relevant forums without digging it up again here.

Offline aameise9

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #348 on: 06/07/2015 08:42 AM »

The whole thing is pretty baseless speculation and the Nokia/Microsoft business was done to death at the time in the relevant forums without digging it up again here.

The main message seems to me that Mark Thomas is a very senior and very serious engineer who knows how to build engines ...

Offline Star One

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #349 on: 06/07/2015 12:43 PM »


The whole thing is pretty baseless speculation and the Nokia/Microsoft business was done to death at the time in the relevant forums without digging it up again here.

The main message seems to me that Mark Thomas is a very senior and very serious engineer who knows how to build engines ...

And surely that's all that matters.

Offline Citizen Wolf

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #350 on: 06/07/2015 02:26 PM »
Star One
**The whole thing is pretty baseless speculation and the Nokia/Microsoft business was done to death at the time in the relevant forums without digging it up again here.**

He brought it up, not to discuss the Nokia/Microsoft issue itself, but just to highlight a point. He didn't say that the unsubstantiated speculation about Stephen Elop was true, just that he hoped that it wasn't something that might happen at REL with Mark Thomas.
The only thing I can be sure of is that I can't be sure of anything.

Online A_M_Swallow

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #351 on: 06/07/2015 04:07 PM »


The whole thing is pretty baseless speculation and the Nokia/Microsoft business was done to death at the time in the relevant forums without digging it up again here.

The main message seems to me that Mark Thomas is a very senior and very serious engineer who knows how to build engines ...

And surely that's all that matters.

No. The boss, unlike the chief engineer, also needs to be able to sell engines for a profit.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #352 on: 06/07/2015 05:56 PM »
And surely that's all that matters.
No. The boss, unlike the chief engineer, also needs to be able to sell engines for a profit.
And raise a very significant amount of funding.

And drive the formation of the airframe consortium.

Without a single wealthy investor who can eliminate part of this funding issue fund raising is a pretty serious part of running a company like this to deliver the results within a reasonable time frame.
"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 #353 on: 06/07/2015 06:17 PM »

And surely that's all that matters.
No. The boss, unlike the chief engineer, also needs to be able to sell engines for a profit.
And raise a very significant amount of funding.

And drive the formation of the airframe consortium.

Without a single wealthy investor who can eliminate part of this funding issue fund raising is a pretty serious part of running a company like this to deliver the results within a reasonable time frame.

Well I trust their judgement on this when it comes to their choice of senior personnel.

Offline francesco nicoli

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #354 on: 06/08/2015 11:48 AM »
The other speculation one could make is that he is being sent out as part of a kind of "deal" a bit like the Microsoft-Nokia thing with Stephen Elop. I only mention it because I experienced it.  I don't know whether that would be a cheering thing or not. At least you can say that RE includes some people who have worked for Rolls Royce so presumably they know each other at least by reputation and that increases the possibility of things happening.
Nokia had serious problems with timely delivery and was in need of a good shake-up. However Stephen Elop was either a trojan with a not-so-secret mission to devalue Nokia to the point where Microsoft could buy it for peanuts, or he was a grotesquely incompetent charlatan being paid obscene amounts for negative results! Under his tenure every metric went drastically down; revenue, profit, unit sales, share price. For this he was rewarded with $18m bonus and a new VP position at Microsoft. Even now, after the purchase by the 800-lb gorilla and the associated benefits that brings, I still rarely see Nokia/Windows phones in the wild here in Germany/UK.

I think Bond and co. are experienced enough (and wary enough) to avoid a debacle like Nokia's happening to REL. However I don't think they (Bond & Thomas) overlapped at RR so I sincerely hope there isn't some kind of predatory nature to Mark Thomas' appointment. It would be tragic for some Machiavellian skulduggery to strangle the Skylon in utero. Skylon may fail to fly, but if so that should be because very clever people failed to make the science work; not because some manager looks at some numbers in a spreadsheet, and decides to burn the place to the ground to "rescue" it.

well, I must say I really like nokia/windows phones! they are basically a mobile terminal of my laptop.

besides, i m not sure about the relation with RR. there is one thing that REL needs, and it's capital. Possibily, cheap friendly capital. RR has it, quite a lot. And RR's people know pretty well how to raise capital. That's the single most important thing for REL now, and it's on it that the game is played. So a bit of engagement from RR wouldn't be necessarily negative I believe.

Offline flymetothemoon

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #355 on: 06/14/2015 01:31 PM »
I've changed from saying - the answer is Skylon, now what's the question (for about 30 years) - until more more recent times (and on these threads) when I still say this, but... Elon Musk...

When's European Space going to see reality slapping it hard in the face, bite the bullet and figure it's **** or bust? ULA are going to be decimated by SpaceX and they're not the only ones. China and Japan are reacting now too.

http://www.wsj.com/articles/spacex-and-the-russian-rocket-mess-1434149145

ESA haven't got a BFR (Mars mega-rocket) in planning anyway so it's not as if doing Skylon hinders any of their plans. Moreover if the technology works who knows what leads that will give European aerospace?

Offline john smith 19

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #356 on: 06/15/2015 06:55 AM »
I've changed from saying - the answer is Skylon, now what's the question (for about 30 years) - until more more recent times (and on these threads) when I still say this, but... Elon Musk...

When's European Space going to see reality slapping it hard in the face, bite the bullet and figure it's **** or bust? ULA are going to be decimated by SpaceX and they're not the only ones. China and Japan are reacting now too.
Part of it is the way the European system differs from the US model.

Since there was only one European launcher to begin with they have never had the painful issue of phasing out an LV design.

Keep in mind Ariane 5 has been commercially successful in the global launch market where Delta IV has not, and they are both 2 stage LH2/LO2 designs with SRBs, with engines designed and built specifically for the vehicle. Ariane even uses common bulkhead tanks, which some people believe are very difficult to do (which they are, unless you read up on the extensive literature NASA generated working out how to make it work).

Large corporations react slowly to (potentially) radical change.

I think it's interesting that Airbus started their recovery project in 2010, five years ago. That suggests someone thought it prudent to have something in the bag in case this happened.

You also need to look at it from the Airbus PoV. In 2011 SX releases a video showing full recovery of an F9. By 2014 Musk is saying that's not economically possible (why it's not remains unanswered) so at least some of the senior management can claim "See, he was bluffing, they are not serious." Shotwells comments on the NATO presentation, when she stated a comm sat launch to GEO is about $100m (basically what Arianespace charge with a rideshare) would also support their argument.

I consider this a "doctrine of impotence" as RV Jones put it. It's comforting and dangerously complacent.

The trouble is Skylon has a lot of risk associated with it, relative to a a nice, well understood architecture like the TSTO ELV. That's important for pan European designs incorporating a lot of multiple governments money. Right now there isn't even a "Skylon making company" for ESA to pass money to. Likewise there is no entity you can contact and say "I'd like to buy a Skylon, what's it cost and how big a down payment do you need?"

You might think of A6 as the "comfort" design for the next generation European LV.  :(

ESA faces a mighty problem. It's under pressure to reduce it's form of "assured access" payments to Arianespace. A6 is designed to be cheaper to make and sell and be easier to find payloads for as you don't need to do rideshares to make its price reasonable.

But if A6 is not cheap enough or lacks performance it will loose out. OTOH F9's GTO performance is to the low end of flights so the question is should Europe be worried now?

If you look behind the SX PR machine can't put the bigger comm sats into GTO and that combination is where the money is. It also explains why SX is keen to get into NSS, as that's a captive market for US only LV's.

The trouble with this rather comforting world view is that it ignores Musks intent and that while F9 is not quite big enough to get large comm sats to orbit FH will be.

So ESA can't justify making SABRE/Skylon it's primary for the NGLV, but based on REL's expansion (a 3600x increase in funding over the last 15 years) and it's ability to deliver on each of its goals close to time and budget it would seem possible that it could supply some funding on an ongoing basis.


"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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News
« Reply #357 on: 06/15/2015 11:17 AM »
News update on the website: Rocket Testing Underway

- PRESS RELEASE -

Monday 15 June 2015

Reaction Engines Ltd. have begun their latest round of rocket engine testing in Westcott, UK.

The SABRE engine requires a novel design of the rocket engine’s thrust chamber and nozzle to allow operation in both air-breathing and rocket modes, as well as a smooth transition between the two. The Advanced Nozzle project is demonstrating the feasibility of this concept and represents a significant technology development effort towards the SABRE demonstrator engine.

The test engine, which has been successfully fired 15 times during its initial commissioning phase in spring 2015, incorporates several new technologies including a 3D printed, actively cooled propellant injector system. Aerodynamic data collected from the firings is being used to validate in-house computational modelling and advance the nozzle design. The test campaign is being operated by Airborne Engineering Ltd in Westcott, Buckinghamshire. Operations are planned to continue throughout 2015, including long duration burns and tests investigating the transition between air- breathing and rocket operation planned for later in the year.

Dr Helen Webber, Reaction Engines’ Project Lead for the Advanced Nozzle Programme, commented: “This experimental engine is an important step into a new era of propulsion and space access. We are using it to test the aerodynamics and performance of the advanced nozzles that the SABRE engine will use, in addition to new manufacturing technologies such as our 3D-printed injection system.

The testing of new propulsion technology has required close work with our partners at Airborne Engineering, in order to make a test rig that can simulate the unique and demanding range of conditions required to put this engine through its paces. Despite being much smaller than SABRE, this engine is still the largest bi-propellant engine to be tested at Westcott for over thirty years, and it is exciting to see the resurgence of Westcott as the centre for UK rocket propulsion research and development. The next few months will see us running the engine for much longer periods in order to explore the transition between the air-breathing and rocket modes of the SABRE’s flight - an important and challenging part of powering Skylon into space.”

There's a video as well: http://www.reactionengines.co.uk/vid_stoicfiring.html

Enjoy!

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Re: News
« Reply #358 on: 06/15/2015 11:57 AM »
- PRESS RELEASE -

Monday 15 June 2015

Reaction Engines Ltd. have begun their latest round of rocket engine testing in Westcott, UK.

I shouldn't complain because news is great to have :-) but ..... I can't resist a quick moan about the way the url for news updates doesn't have a link for each specific story.  i.e. it's www.reactionengines.co.uk/news_updates.html for everything.

This does make it difficult reposting stories sometimes as various other system such as facebook expect a link to link to the same text next week as it does this week.  It's just generally difficult because after some time any link will be wrong.

</moan>

Anyhow it's great news :-)

I wonder if STOIC is still an expansion-deflection nozzle?  I assume so.

Offline JN

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #359 on: 06/15/2015 12:38 PM »
Point taken  - I'm working on some major fixes for the website. It'll be a while yet, but watch this space! (excuse the pun...)

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