Author Topic: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)  (Read 442126 times)

Offline QuantumG

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #420 on: 07/14/2015 07:39 AM »
Jeff Bezos has billions to spend on rockets and can go at whatever pace he likes! Wow! What pace is he going at? Well... have you heard of Zeno's paradox?

Offline john smith 19

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #421 on: 07/14/2015 08:22 AM »
I'm not sure any existing manufacturer is a particularly good fit - the proposed skin and frame construction seems quite unlike modern aeroplanes.
Welcome to the forum.
TBH you're right, it's more the process of mfg and getting type approval for a large aeronautical project that they need. I think some of the "regional jet" mfg's might have a shot but AFAIK there are so few of them left  :(
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Airliner wings are quite unlike what will be needed for this mach 5 'plane, and I would guess the scale of the wings also leaves fighter jet builders with little relevant experience.
Also true. Most large aircraft use the wings as fuel tanks, absolutely out of the question for LH2.
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While Airbus Group might seem to be the "obvious" choice, they're pretty invested in Arianne, so the politics could be interesting.
Well Airbus has a division working on A6, it's a question of how much autonomy a "Skylon Division" would have and how much the parent could influence it. I'll note some REL staff have experience of both Anglo French and pan European projects from Concorde through (IIRC) Tornado and Typhoon.
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But this seems to be very much cart before the horse. While an awful lot of design work has gone into a craft to fly the SABRE, that work was needed to ensure SABRE was worth developing. Now a working engine is needed before it would be sensible to begin work on the craft.
True. 2016/17 should be very exciting.
We're in danger of talking past each other here. There are at least two points being argued for, which are fairly distinct:

1] If REL is looking for an airframer to build Skylons, Lockheed Martin is not an obviously good choice.
Agreed.
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2] If REL is looking to license some of its recently patented technologies (multiple), then Lockheed Martin is a likely customer as they deal in products that could potentially benefit from them, e.g. military jet/UAV/cruise missiles, etc.
Reasonable.
ok, so we can exclude LM from the picture. Who else should be dropped?

Why are you assuming this technology is only for commercial/civilian purposes because if you are then you're being very, very naive.

I'd put reasonable money on this seeing use in the military long before it has commercial use.
Good luck with that.

Light weight high efficiency heat exchangers have a number of civilian and military applications but none of them get REL closer to their goal of building an RLV.

SABRE's sole function is as a launch system. The notion that hypersonic cruise can become launch  is one actively promoted by the US SCRamjet community, who've probably had $5-10Bn (inflation adjusted) from the late 1950's to demonstrate their plan and took till 2004 to get positive thrust in a flight vehicle (X-43A).

If you want a hypersonic cruise engine you design a hypersonic cruise engine, you don't under run a launch engine.

REL and the USAFRL understand this quite well.

There is also the little problem that M5+ cruise is like continuous re-entry. Skylon's trajectory gains and sheds heat in a way that is impossible for a cruise vehicle to do at anything like constant altitude.

The engine is just the start.  :(

Well if you're the U.S. & want REL's technology for military use then I would think that's precisely what makes LM a strong choice.
There is the small matter of what REL want.

It is after all their technology.  :(

I read that the Altas V was developed for a US Airforce program.
It was.

Both the Atlas V and Delta IV were developed at USAF request under the EELV programme. Both companies committed their own funds (or staff and facilities equivalent to substantial funds) to their efforts and (in theory) one of them would become sole provider to the USG for most USG launches. The other would then have to rely on commercial launches.

IRL the down select never happened, the launch market suffered one of its periodic droughts and they merged into ULA, where they've enjoyed a monopoly of large USG launches ever since.
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   Are they the type of company to start a risky new venture that doesn't have a big guaranteed customer such as the government?  e.g. there are people who say that about BAE.
Indeed.
« Last Edit: 07/14/2015 08:23 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 john smith 19

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"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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Offline francesco nicoli

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #424 on: 07/14/2015 01:52 PM »
update from REL website.

looks like production is ramping up

http://www.reactionengines.co.uk/news_14july2015_vacfurnace.html

(edit)

morever, if it works and pre-coolers are in fact requested by the market, they could easily build a second furnace to sell the precoolers to other customers and so finance part of the engine development
« Last Edit: 07/14/2015 02:04 PM by francesco nicoli »

Offline t43562

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #425 on: 07/14/2015 02:54 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...)

Three cheers for JN for giving us a story we can link to easily (about the furnace).   Yay and thank you. 8) ;D

Online Alpha_Centauri

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #426 on: 07/14/2015 07:44 PM »
Curious comment from the UK space conference;

https://twitter.com/pbdes/status/621009703066279936?s=17

Anyone know what this is about? The only proposal I know of on that scale is REL's Blue Boomerang...

http://sec.kingston.ac.uk/uklaunch/docs/Reaction%20Engines%20Blue%20Boomerang%20-%20Light%20Launcher.pdf

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #427 on: 07/14/2015 11:05 PM »
When doing commercial feasibility studies cubesats currently cost $50,000 - $100,000 per kilogram to launch. This decreasing price includes share of the launch vehicle, deployment hardware, safely inspection and possibly the kick stage. A primary cubesat launching mission can aim for polar orbits or carry medium sized satellites containing propellant.

Offline knowles2

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #428 on: 07/14/2015 11:15 PM »
update from REL website.

looks like production is ramping up

http://www.reactionengines.co.uk/news_14july2015_vacfurnace.html

(edit)

morever, if it works and pre-coolers are in fact requested by the market, they could easily build a second furnace to sell the precoolers to other customers and so finance part of the engine development
Look like RE learnt something publicity.

This is actually what going to make it hard for other people to copy Reaction Engine technology even with the patents in the public, the technology to actually manufacture the pre coolers, some of it was developed perfected by Reaction Engines themselves and I very much doubt we will see those being patented anytime soon.

Offline knowles2

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #429 on: 07/14/2015 11:21 PM »
Curious comment from the UK space conference;

https://twitter.com/pbdes/status/621009703066279936?s=17

Anyone know what this is about? The only proposal I know of on that scale is REL's Blue Boomerang...

http://sec.kingston.ac.uk/uklaunch/docs/Reaction%20Engines%20Blue%20Boomerang%20-%20Light%20Launcher.pdf
There been a lot of talk about UK financing indigenous a single stage to orbit rockets for small rockets capable of launching from the UK. There was talk about Virgin Galactic doing something in the UK but from what I hear their efforts confined to America at the minute, through their main customer is a British satellite firm.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #430 on: 07/15/2015 06:42 AM »
This is actually what going to make it hard for other people to copy Reaction Engine technology even with the patents in the public, the technology to actually manufacture the pre coolers, some of it was developed perfected by Reaction Engines themselves and I very much doubt we will see those being patented anytime soon.
Correct.

The patents will tell you if you make an HX with tubes this size and in this layout it will have roughly this capability.

But once you run the numbers for your design you discover that such an HX takes millions of joints that have to be close to perfect first time (it's unlikely rework is possible)

That's to say better than a 1 in 1000 000 failure rate.

How you do that is what REL know. I'm sure they will build stuff using their technology for paying customers, but I'd suggest if they are wise they don't export the technology.
"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 momerathe

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #431 on: 07/15/2015 04:06 PM »
I'm not sure any existing manufacturer is a particularly good fit - the proposed skin and frame construction seems quite unlike modern aeroplanes.

Airliner wings are quite unlike what will be needed for this mach 5 'plane, and I would guess the scale of the wings also leaves fighter jet builders with little relevant experience.

I take your point, but I'm mainly thinking about the depth their pockets. IIRC REL's development cost estimates for Skylon were comparable to the A380..
thermodynamics will get you in the end

Offline Prober

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #432 on: 07/15/2015 04:07 PM »
some 3D printer tech for Skylon

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=33141.msg1404984#msg1404984

now I need to backtrack and read all your posts :-X
2017 - Everything Old is New Again.
I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. ~ by Thomas Alva Edison

Offline john smith 19

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #433 on: 07/16/2015 01:12 AM »
I agree they're an unlikely partner, however the SR-71 gives them some relevant experience - the skin, and supporting engines on low thickness wings.
That was about 55 years ago. The Ford Trimotor also used a corrugated skin design.

LM seems to be pursuing (or rather pursuing funding for) their "SR72" concept with an Aerojet provided Dual Mode Scramjet.

There are 2 problems with LM.
1) is they are American and Skylon needs to sell on an international basis to make profit and this will get very bogged down in US ITAR rules despite it being designed to look and operate as little like an ICBM as possible
2) They are Lockheed Martin. Looking over their 110+ page corporate accounts tells you their basic business model is "Sell stuff and services to the US Government." ULA is 10% of their profit and I doubt more than  20% of that is from someone that isn't a part of the USG or some other government. 

That might be useful when it comes to selling it to other governments but it does not suggest they are good at managing a commercially funded project on time and budget when their usual MO is call up the DoD/NRO/NASA for more money especially when there is an in house programme already in place through ULA.   :(

There is a reason that when NASA ran the NAFCOM cost model for the Commercial Cargo programme over SX they thought it would cost roughly 9x what SX spend on F1 and F9.

It's the cost over runs on US government aerospace projects going back decades gradually shifting the "centre of mass" of costs upward.  :(


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If nothing else, a revenue stream would get them closer to their goal. I'm sure there is a large element of investor palatability, but Reaction Engines as a company was set up to sell heat exchangers. See also their wholly owned subsidiary "Skylon Enterprise Ltd"
True, a steady non research revenue stream of decent size would  help a lot in moving the project along.
« Last Edit: 07/16/2015 02:56 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 john smith 19

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #434 on: 07/16/2015 07:58 PM »
Quote from: http://www.reactionengines.co.uk/lapcat.html
The A2 airframe also has technology commonality with the SKYLON launch vehicle. [...] it is anticipated that the A2 airframe would be constructed as a similar multi-layer structure to SKYLON [...]
once a company was building *that* sort of aeroplane, slipping a Skylon into the mix would be a lot easier.
That's a bit of a chicken & egg problem

A2 is a very long way from being built.
"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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The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #435 on: 07/20/2015 05:15 PM »
This seems appropriate here.

Mach 5 Airliner Operations Face Huge Challenges

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Will hypersonic airliners be too hot to handle . . . literally? The issues involved in ground handling of a Mach 5-plus transport still simmering after its intercontinental hypersonic hop are among the unique challenges being considered as researchers address the potential operation of future high-speed airliners. While most hypersonic transport projects have focused on the basic design and aerodynamic, propulsion, structures and systems technologies required, the operational aspects are ...

http://m.aviationweek.com/commercial-aviation/mach-5-airliner-operations-face-huge-challenges
« Last Edit: 07/20/2015 05:16 PM by Star One »

Offline Glom

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #436 on: 07/20/2015 07:16 PM »
Maybe an early deceleration to allow for cooling in the terminal phase?

Offline tl6973

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #437 on: 07/21/2015 02:31 PM »
Hello all,

Long-time lurker, first time poster.

I would imagine that it is probably easier to build Skylon before getting into anything like the A2, for a number of reasons:

1. Skylon is designed for a lifetime of 200 flights, spending only minutes each in hot "hypersonic cruise" (ie re-entry) conditions. this also goes for airframe loading cycles. This is compared to the requirement of at least thousands of hours (if not tens of thousands) and cycles for a civil airliner. therefore one would expect the sklyon airframe design to be a better first one to try.

2. There is a proven, existing market for Skylon - in fact, Skylon has been designed specifically based on the GEO comsat market. whereas, Lapcat is really a feasibility study, without the robust business case required to support investment/ development.

3. The amount of new cryogenic fuel supply infrastructure required for Skylon is far less than for something like an A2 - Skylon only needs it at enough launch sites to get to the right orbits, whereas a useful passenger plane will need supply at every place that people actually want to go.

As for the temperature of a just-landed A2, I imagine in normal aircraft operations you would have at least half an hour of subsonic flight before landing during which to cool down (getting in the runway queue for one thing), plus any active cooling if run at subsonic would bring the temperature down pretty fast, plus a low heat-capacity skin material, so i wonder if this might be a bit of a non-problem. Can anyone tell me if there were/ are heat handling issues with the Shuttle/ X37B post-landing?

I hope these are valid points and am very happy to be corrected on them, just pleased to be part of the discussion :)

Offline john smith 19

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #438 on: 07/21/2015 09:01 PM »
Hello all,

Long-time lurker, first time poster.
Welcome. 
Quote
I would imagine that it is probably easier to build Skylon before getting into anything like the A2, for a number of reasons:

1. Skylon is designed for a lifetime of 200 flights, spending only minutes each in hot "hypersonic cruise" (ie re-entry) conditions. this also goes for airframe loading cycles. This is compared to the requirement of at least thousands of hours (if not tens of thousands) and cycles for a civil airliner. therefore one would expect the sklyon airframe design to be a better first one to try.
This may be the difference between launch and cruise. The short length of time offers options that simply can't last the length of a long trip.
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2. There is a proven, existing market for Skylon - in fact, Skylon has been designed specifically based on the GEO comsat market. whereas, Lapcat is really a feasibility study, without the robust business case required to support investment/ development.
That's a mistake on my part. Hempsell stated that REL looked at various uses for the vehicle in terms of velocity requirements. The delta V needed for comm sats turned out to be the sizing limit, but comm sat delivery is a key part of the economic case.

You're right about LAPCAT. In fact its the the engine. A2 was the aircraft design,but it was always more of an outline of the vehicle you'd need to carry it.
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3. The amount of new cryogenic fuel supply infrastructure required for Skylon is far less than for something like an A2 - Skylon only needs it at enough launch sites to get to the right orbits, whereas a useful passenger plane will need supply at every place that people actually want to go.
True.  The cost of the fuel infrastructure was a major reason for cancelling the SR71 and LH2 is much tougher to handle.
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As for the temperature of a just-landed A2, I imagine in normal aircraft operations you would have at least half an hour of subsonic flight before landing during which to cool down (getting in the runway queue for one thing), plus any active cooling if run at subsonic would bring the temperature down pretty fast, plus a low heat-capacity skin material, so i wonder if this might be a bit of a non-problem. Can anyone tell me if there were/ are heat handling issues with the Shuttle/ X37B post-landing?
The Shuttle had issues in this area. I recall something about the door area being at its hottest after landing. OTOH Shuttle covering was a mix of ceramic blankets and open cell ceramic foam. It's easy to see how these could be strongly heated during re entry and then form a layer of stagnant air around the vehicle during landing, making heat release quite a slow process.

But Skylons skin is a series of thin plates, which won't trap stagnant air. I'm not sure if it qualifies as "low" heat capacity.

I'd be very surprised if REL didn't get access to the NASA TPSX database on TPS materials for the Shuttle. I'd guess they've run quite a few simulations on Skylon entry by now  and have a pretty good idea of the vehicles temperature profile as it takes off and lands.
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I hope these are valid points and am very happy to be corrected on them, just pleased to be part of the discussion :)
You're points are very valid.
"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 flymetothemoon

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #439 on: 07/21/2015 11:50 PM »
Is it not possible, even likely, that Lapcat/A2 was simply the wrong requirement? Yes ESA had good reasons for creating a future aircraft study and REL did a fine job of meeting their study needs, but that doesn't mean it's the best idea.

Once SABREs are shown to be effective and robust (here's hoping!) the entire focus of long-distance high speed air travel may well switch to sub-orbital hopping in a passenger vehicle with SABRE like engines. Why spend 5 hours getting from Europe to Australia (very impressive) when you can do it in 45 minutes - AND avoid all those really very difficult to solve skin heating issues.

Currently, people just don't think of a safe 'space' plane with high passenger numbers as a realistic option because it "isn't possible".

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