Skylon spacecraft uses internal engines and rocket fuel

by Mark R

This is the Skylon, and I fully realize that sounds like a Cylon from Battlestar Gallactica. I’m sure that you are looking at this spacecraft and thinking it is something out of science fiction.

However, this is just one of several vehicles that I have seen designed for the apparent boom in space tourist industry, which is set to come about at some particular date in the future, I would imagine. I think NASA is working on one that launches from a rail, then there is the XCOR Aerospace Lynx, and whatever Sir Richard Branson is working on now.

The Skylon is designed by British scientists so it “will travel at five times the speed of sound using two internal engines that suck hydrogen and oxygen from the atmosphere to send it 18 miles above the ground – and out of Earth’s atmosphere”. As soon as it reaches the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere, it cuts into rocket power.

I can only assume that the purpose of creating a craft that could do this is so there isn’t any damage to the environment from rocket fuel. Yes, there is some environmental harm done with the space shuttle, but not as much as the damage we do with all our automobiles daily.


5 reviews or comments

desktoparchitecture Says: September 24, 2010 at 6:30 pm

At present all this hype about private space travel just gives me a big yaaaaawwn!

alpha Says: September 25, 2010 at 6:54 am

“I can only assume that the purpose of creating a craft that could do this is so there isn’t any damage to the environment
from rocket fuel.”

There is no environmental damage from the combustion of Hydrogen and Oxygen, the by-product simply being Water…

The reason is a “proper” fully-reusable spaceplane needs more fuel than it can carry to be efficient, hence using Oxygen from the atmosphere (not Hydrogen btw) to get part of the way there.

Bismil Says: October 2, 2010 at 5:49 am

That’s not an ornithopter. It’s a glider that just has a useless flapping motion with the wingtips.

The wing flapping isn’t doing anything, you would get the same or better results with a plain old glider. It wasn’t human powered flight. Without the car that thing isn’t moving an inch. There is no generation of forward thrust and no ability to maintain lift. They relied on the car to tow it up to speed and the aerodynamics of the wings to get it airborne. Then he just glided to the ground, while uselessly flapping the wings.

If this gets officially recognized as the first ornithopter to fly, then that is a travesty for science and aviation.

Steve Says: October 5, 2010 at 8:26 am

It’s about time! At lastthe Space Age has arrived, nevermind the morons that say ‘yaaaaaawn’ go back to your boring Soap Dramas 😉

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