Author Topic: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)  (Read 420639 times)

Offline Archibald

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #900 on: 11/26/2015 10:23 AM »
Quote
Concorde, the Channel Tunnel

Excuse me, but those are not very good examples. We all know that Concorde was a money pit, but the Shunnel economic case was a major boondoggle. The Eurotunnel company lost tons and tons of money, to the great pleasure of the poor guys who had bought shares in it. Never, ever buy any share in Eurotunnel.
I don't know what the situation is today, but in the 90's the shunnel was losing money pretty horribly.

As for the ISS, in 1984 it was to cost $8 billion, but it ended at $100 billion, twelve times more !
« Last Edit: 11/26/2015 10:24 AM by Archibald »

Offline francesco nicoli

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #901 on: 11/26/2015 11:54 AM »
Now that semi-reuse has been demonstrated

Semi-reuse has been demonstrated 35 years ago.

New Shepard is designed for suborbital tourism, that's a market that could potentially support a very high flight rate. No such market will exist for orbital spaceflight anytime soon (i.e. decades), and whether Skylon could create that market is very uncertain at best.

Why does REL not design an engine for suborbital tourism? I don't understand REL's obsession with SSTO, it sometimes makes me question whether their technology is ready for reality.

On which data do you assume there such a high market for suborbital flights and there is not for orbital ones?

Offline francesco nicoli

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #902 on: 11/26/2015 12:03 PM »
Quote
Concorde, the Channel Tunnel

Excuse me, but those are not very good examples. We all know that Concorde was a money pit, but the Shunnel economic case was a major boondoggle. The Eurotunnel company lost tons and tons of money, to the great pleasure of the poor guys who had bought shares in it. Never, ever buy any share in Eurotunnel.
I don't know what the situation is today, but in the 90's the shunnel was losing money pretty horribly.

As for the ISS, in 1984 it was to cost $8 billion, but it ended at $100 billion, twelve times more !

In fact, since 2011 Eurotunnel is a fantastic money machine for an infrastructural project, with net profits touching 100M /Y. It is probably the highest revenue from infrastructural projects ever.
This said, YES: if you were a early investor, you had a considerable part of the initial capital written off.
But this is the whole point: IF someone develops Skylon, their product will become an exceptional money machine. The question is IF developing it is profitable, not if operating it is that.

Besides, I'd like to stress, once more, that infrastructure projects have strong positive externalities on the economy besides the profitability of selling tickets. You don't evaluate the construction of a motorway or of a railway simply assessing whether you will sell enough tickets: you first and foremost estimate the impact of the infrastructure on the economy.
And I can assure you that the impact of a infrastructure potentially bringing LEO costs as down as 600 $/KG is enormous, regardless of the fact it is profitable or not selling tickets.

Offline Oli

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #903 on: 11/26/2015 04:02 PM »
Why does REL not design an engine for suborbital tourism? I don't understand REL's obsession with SSTO, it sometimes makes me question whether their technology is ready for reality.

Because there is no need for a complex new engine class for suborbital flight

you can easily achieve this using legacy rocket technology

How's that even an argument?

New Shepard does staging, because an engine failure would be fatal otherwise. Its engine is also high-thrust, despite using hydrogen.

SpaceShipTwo uses a carrier aircraft.

The XCOR Lynx is the only runway takeoff/landing single stage vehicle, but it doesn't exactly win a trophy when it comes to payload delivered (passengers, cabin size).

So I think in principle an air-breathing rocket engine would very attractive for suborbital flight. Whether REL's technology would be useful/cost-effective is another question of course, but have they actually considered it?

On which data do you assume there such a high market for suborbital flights and there is not for orbital ones?

700 individuals have signed up for a ride on SS2. The Futron space tourism study sees a potential demand of 1'298 passengers per year at a $100k price, and 15'712 passengers at $50k. That's a lot flights.

The same study sees demand for orbital tourism as well, but we're absolutely nowhere near the price point where it would have a significant impact on todays flight rates. In fact the study expects 60 passengers per year at $5m, but that's at least an order of magnitude less expensive than commercial crew, and even then it would only lead to maybe 10 more flights.

Other than that I don't see any potential market. Even a constellation like OneWeb can easily be deployed with "a few" expendable launchers.

P.S. Of course the Futron study could be total bull****, but I haven't come across anything better.
« Last Edit: 11/26/2015 04:05 PM by Oli »

Offline lkm

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #904 on: 11/26/2015 04:06 PM »


In a different universe where there were no other credible projects that could potentially reduce launch costs through re-use, Skylon would surely attract attention from investors.

If there were no other credible projects that could potentially reduce launch costs through re-use why would anyone need to invest in it?  If SpaceX or Blue Origin lowers launch costs through reuse is Boeing going to just exit the launch market or are they going to invest in reuse? Is Airbus just going to exit the launch market or are they going to invest in reuse?
The only launch provider that can launch Falcon is SpaceX, the only launch provider that can launch New Shephard is Blue Origin for everybody else there's what? Well if they care to invest there's Skylon, which every launch provider can buy.
There's 14 active launch service providers globally, only one of which is SpaceX. In a potential age of reusable launch they all have to be launching something competitive or go out of business.

I think you've succeeded in laying out a hopeful and plausible scenario for Skylon. It just involves waiting a number years. IIUC the story goes something like:

1] By ~2020, REL have a working development engine, AND SpaceX are undercutting the competition by reaping the rewards of their reusable first stage.

2] Faced with either paying high prices for expendable launchers, or ceding the launch market to SpaceX (and Blue?) interested parties band together and form a consortium which cumulatively has the financial clout and risk capacity to complete a next generation vehicle that can compete with SpaceX.

Now that semi-reuse has been demonstrated there is a desire to skip a generation ahead of the competition, and Skylon fits the bill as a fully reusable SSTO. Hopefully Franscesco's timeline of orbital testing in 2028 could still be kept.

Such a scenario is dependent as much on geopolitical/financial realities as the rocket equation, but who knows - perhaps such as consortium could be assembled. There are precedents: Concorde, the Channel Tunnel, and of course the ISS come to mind. Even Ariane.

Viewing the problem this way does prompt some interesting new questions: For example, the Russians and Chinese have not put much energy into re-use thus far. Their indigenous expendable programs are surely expensive, and there must be some pressure internally to find more cost-effective ways to launch commercial/civilian payloads.

Such a consortium would need to be truly multinational - so no one put RAF roundels on the wings  ;).

And we'd likely see parts of development farmed out to member countries Ariane-style.

Or perhaps if we stretch the timeline out to where ESA is looking beyond Ariane 6, it could just be Ariane 7.

As I think BAE has shown none of the interested parties have to wait until REL have a ground demonstration engine as for the low low price of whatever they can find down the back of the respective counches they can by a stake in the company and do due diligence with own engineers on whether a fully functional engine is an inevitability at this point and as for just sitting back and waiting to see whether a competitor does come in and radically disrupt your business, generally speaking by that point it's usually too late.
 The time to be making strategic investments to see off a competitor is before they start taking your business, the relevant launch providers should be studying what SpaceX is doing today, making their best estimate of their capabilities in ten years, 20 years time and the launch markets that will exist then and then investing in capabilities accordingly.

Should a consortium be formed next year then by the published roadmap 2024 is possible, but the negotiations to form such an enterprise are long and complex and it would be very easy to say we don't have to invest anything because (insert reusable System) isn't going to change anything because (delete as applicable)  it wont work/our customers can't buy it/our customers are guaranteed by the state.

As for China, interestingly, there were a couple of Chinese papers at this years IAC that kind of talked about SABRE or were SABRE influenced, so I think they're clearly thinking about an indigenous response to SABRE technology.
« Last Edit: 11/26/2015 04:22 PM by lkm »

Offline francesco nicoli

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #905 on: 11/26/2015 04:13 PM »
Why does REL not design an engine for suborbital tourism? I don't understand REL's obsession with SSTO, it sometimes makes me question whether their technology is ready for reality.

Because there is no need for a complex new engine class for suborbital flight

you can easily achieve this using legacy rocket technology

How's that even an argument?

New Shepard does staging, because an engine failure would be fatal otherwise. Its engine is also high-thrust, despite using hydrogen.

SpaceShipTwo uses a carrier aircraft.

The XCOR Lynx is the only runway takeoff/landing single stage vehicle, but it doesn't exactly win a trophy when it comes to payload delivered (passengers, cabin size).

So I think in principle an air-breathing rocket engine would very attractive for suborbital flight. Whether REL's technology would be useful/cost-effective is another question of course, but have they actually considered it?

On which data do you assume there such a high market for suborbital flights and there is not for orbital ones?

700 individuals have signed up for a ride on SS2. The Futron space tourism study sees a potential demand of 1'298 passengers per year at a $100k price, and 15'712 passengers at $50k. That's a lot flights.

The same study sees demand for orbital tourism as well, but we're absolutely nowhere near the price point where it would have a significant impact on todays flight rates. In fact the study expects 60 passengers per year at $5m, but that's at least an order of magnitude less expensive than commercial crew, and even then it would only lead to maybe 10 more flights.

Other than that I don't see any potential market. Even a constellation like OneWeb can easily be deployed with "a few" expendable launchers.

P.S. Of course the Futron study could be total bull****, but I haven't come across anything better.

Commercial crew isn't, exactly, Skylon, is it?
Skylon operational cost is projected to be 5M, and the module is projected to transport 20 pp. This returns a ticket to orbit for 250.000, which is about the same price than VG. So one should expect a particular reason for people to fly suborbital and not orbital, when prices are close, in order to justify the claim that there is a different in market size....

Offline francesco nicoli

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #906 on: 11/26/2015 04:18 PM »
ANYWAY, if any REL employee is listening.

the UK has formalized a 8 billions investment in the European Fund for Strategic Investment, which finances long-term, strategic investment in technologically intensive products which have high expected returns but are too risky for the privates to invest in the short term.
8 BN Eur is a big sum, which gives to the UK gvt some leverage. The instrument is perfect for REL because it works as a backing for private investors, removing or greatly reducing risks associated with financing the project.
The more I investigate the instrument, the more I believe this is exactly what REL needs.

I strongly advise you to get in touch with the EFSI. REL, those are your guys.

General information on EFSI can be found here. http://ec.europa.eu/priorities/jobs-growth-investment/plan/efsi/index_en.htm. financing applications are mediated through the European Investment Bank investment committee: the link for applications is provided in the main link above. If Skylon is not a strategic investment lacking private backing due to financial risks, then who is?
« Last Edit: 11/26/2015 04:20 PM by francesco nicoli »

Online Robotbeat

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #907 on: 11/26/2015 07:14 PM »
Skylon's biggest market potential is point-to-point transport. I know that's not how it's designed, but it dwarfs the orbital launch market (which they're probably going to lose to the likes of SpaceX and Blue Origin anyway).
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Offline flymetothemoon

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #908 on: 11/26/2015 07:31 PM »
Skylon's biggest market potential is point-to-point transport. I know that's not how it's designed, but it dwarfs the orbital launch market (which they're probably going to lose to the likes of SpaceX and Blue Origin anyway).

I 'like'd the P2P bit!

Offline knowles2

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #909 on: 11/26/2015 09:43 PM »
Skylon's biggest market potential is point-to-point transport. I know that's not how it's designed, but it dwarfs the orbital launch market (which they're probably going to lose to the likes of SpaceX and Blue Origin anyway).

Don't see either ever being able to match Skylon 5 million pounds per launch price.
Spacex even if all components could be recovered at some point in the future would still require days, if not weeks worth of work for it to be ready for it next flight.

Blue origin have yet to achieve orbit.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #910 on: 11/27/2015 08:00 AM »
Skylon's biggest market potential is point-to-point transport. I know that's not how it's designed, but it dwarfs the orbital launch market (which they're probably going to lose to the likes of SpaceX and Blue Origin anyway).
VTVL systems take substantial hits for being SSTO. Multi stage VTVL reusable takes substantial hits for reintegration and Musk has said reuse of a 2nd stage in F9 sized payloads is dead, although he won't say why.

So you can have (maybe) reuse when the BFR appears in 100 tonne lots and a baseline price which with 15-20 years of launch price inflation will probably make a current Atlas V launch look cheap. In fact this is exactly the rationale for SLS.  :(

These things are quite easy to model and very hard to defeat. To increase the market you need to lower both the $/lb cost and retain the absolute payload size, otherwise you're selling 1/2 a payload at 1/2 price at best.  At worst you have a vehicle with a sticker price of X$/lb but you send up 90% empty, provided of course someone buys that launch, otherwise it's an expense SX will have to fund from their paying customers.

The obvious fixes (better Isp and better structural weight) are very difficult to achieve and very difficult to achieve with robust safety margins.

No a Skylon can't land on Mars. But it can build a Mars mission in 15 tonne blocks, at $5-10m a block.

So I'd like to think Musk would be pragmatic enough to buy a couple and run his project that way.
"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 Archibald

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #911 on: 11/27/2015 10:01 AM »
P2P is very hard, because ballistics are hard. The issue is that trajectories are very "pointy" - you have to fly very high and fast for little horizontal distance.
For a transatlantic flight of 6500 km you need a speed of (roughly) 5 km/s. Orbital speed of 7 km/s give you a range of 10 000 km at best.Meanwhile the trajectory is so pointy you hand up flying through the lowest Van Allen radiation belts( 500 miles high or even more)

 Unfortunately, current ultra-long range Boeing and Airbus are flying 18 000 km or more. Travelling 18 000 km using P2P would take as much energy as Earth escape, or beyond.

Ballistics are a harsh mistress.
« Last Edit: 11/27/2015 10:02 AM by Archibald »

Offline 93143

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #912 on: 11/27/2015 10:15 AM »
VTVL systems take substantial hits for being SSTO. Multi stage VTVL reusable takes substantial hits for reintegration and Musk has said reuse of a 2nd stage in F9 sized payloads is dead, although he won't say why.

Any all-rocket system takes a huge hit for being SSTO; winged HTO is probably counterproductive on something with engines that light.  And Musk did in fact say why F9 won't be fully reusable; it's because it's too hard to get the upper stage back from a GTO mission.  He also applied it specifically to the kerosene systems, citing Isp issues.  Do you have a reference where he says that any F9-sized upper stage reuse is off the table?

Travelling 18 000 km using P2P would take as much energy as Earth escape, or beyond.

No, you can travel as far as you want without ever having to exceed orbital velocity.  Think about it...

Offline lkm

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #913 on: 11/27/2015 12:04 PM »
Skylon's biggest market potential is point-to-point transport. I know that's not how it's designed, but it dwarfs the orbital launch market (which they're probably going to lose to the likes of SpaceX and Blue Origin anyway).

I'm don't really think both those things can be true.
Skylon's launch price is predicted to be heavily flight rate dependant, the incremental launch cost is very low and at high flight rates the launch price can fall quite low.

If as you posit point to point transport is a huge potential market for Skylon and that that market dwarfs the launch market in which SpaceX and Blue Origin participate then by definition the Skylon launch rate must dwarf the SpaceX and Blue Origin launch rate and thus the the profitable Skylon launch price must fall far below that achievable by SpaceX and Blue Origin. Thus it can't really be true that Skylon could own P2P but lose orbital launch, that doesn't make sense.

Taking your prediction to its logical conclusion in the longer term the Skylon technology can be applied to hypersonic passenger aircraft which is an even larger market than point to point requiring much more demanding engineering, by which point the shared technology base and flight experience will lead to 2nd and 3rd generation Skylons with massively improved lifetimes and maintenance costs as Skylon is just one aircraft type in a vastly larger technology ecosystem of similar aircraft all driving forward technology development and spreading the cost of it and numbering vastly more than there are  reusable VTOL rocket orbital launchers.
 So in the long run it really can't make sense.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #914 on: 11/27/2015 02:00 PM »
Any all-rocket system takes a huge hit for being SSTO; winged HTO is probably counterproductive on something with engines that light.  And Musk did in fact say why F9 won't be fully reusable; it's because it's too hard to get the upper stage back from a GTO mission.
That's a little more detailed but fails to explain what the detailed problem is.
Quote
He also applied it specifically to the kerosene systems, citing Isp issues.  Do you have a reference where he says that any F9-sized upper stage reuse is off the table?
Quote
I'll need to review the MIT presentation he gave. IIRC he said "F9 and F9 derived." Obviously an interesting question would would  an F9 sized Methalox system be viable?

So in the long run it really can't make sense.
What can't make sense, or do you mean his statements form a logical paradox where something has to be true and false at the same time?
"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 lkm

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #915 on: 11/27/2015 04:19 PM »


So in the long run it really can't make sense.
What can't make sense, or do you mean his statements form a logical paradox where something has to be true and false at the same time?

I meant that it that it couldn't both be true the Skylon could be successful in providing point to point transport and at same time fail to provide the lowest priced orbital launch and that the logical conclusion of success at point to point transport is in the long term development of dedicated hypersonic air transport using the same Skylon derived technology which for the reasons stated means that it really can't be true that Sklyon derived systems could prove superior at revolutionising air travel but fail to be better at orbital launch than staged reusable rockets, i.e. the statement doesn't make any sense.

Offline 93143

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #916 on: 11/27/2015 09:23 PM »
It could be true if Falcon ends up cheaper at a moderately high flight rate than Skylon does at a very high flight rate.  That doesn't seem especially likely to me, but we don't actually know yet...

Offline francesco nicoli

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #917 on: 11/27/2015 10:47 PM »
It could be true if Falcon ends up cheaper at a moderately high flight rate than Skylon does at a very high flight rate.  That doesn't seem especially likely to me, but we don't actually know yet...

Well, we won't know for more than a decade. I take there is a consensus, on this forum, that we will be lucky to see Skylon offering commercial trips by 2030.... which has a huge implication: for that moment, we will have finally known whether a sustainable market has emerged or not, and to what extent launching costs affect demand for launches. both aspects conjure to higher demand: R&D developing applications, and lower launching costs in making them profitable.

BTW, if you guys could contribute to the little study I am doing on historic launching costs (you can find the link here: http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=38888.0) it would help estimating some degree of elasticity. It would also be good to have a chat about the total size of the launch markets over the years, so to have better computations...


Offline ANTIcarrot

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #918 on: 11/28/2015 09:50 PM »
Skylon's biggest market potential is point-to-point transport. I know that's not how it's designed, but it dwarfs the orbital launch market (which they're probably going to lose to the likes of SpaceX and Blue Origin anyway).
Do not forget the potential market for point to point delivery of 200lb warheads. While it might be nice to imagine investors looking towards space, I'm sure investors BAE is looking at Skylon and thinking 'mach 5 cruise missile' or '150,000ft bomber'. If the engine works, and can be made to work on something a little more practical, like methane (which it supposedly can) then that is something they can sell to a lot of customers, whether the space business works out or not.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: The Reaction Engines Skylon Master Thread (5)
« Reply #919 on: 11/29/2015 10:15 AM »
Do not forget the potential market for point to point delivery of 200lb warheads. While it might be nice to imagine investors looking towards space, I'm sure investors BAE is looking at Skylon and thinking 'mach 5 cruise missile' or '150,000ft bomber'. If the engine works, and can be made to work on something a little more practical, like methane (which it supposedly can) then that is something they can sell to a lot of customers, whether the space business works out or not.
This is not SABRE, it's the Scimitar M5 cruise engine for the LAPCAT A2 version.

Armed forced are very wary of any cryogenics outside of LV's. Everything else runs on room temperature liquids or solids.
"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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