Yes, I thought I\’d see this name here.
Engineers have developed the new £700 million “Skylon spaceplane”, which can travel at more than five times the speed of sound.
Costing about £6.3 million per flight the 270 foot-long craft can carry up to 24 passengers into space. It could be available for commercial use within a decade.
Looking at the referenced article, yes, it\’s Alan Bond again, of HOTOL fame.
It\’s a clever engine they\’ve got, no doubt about that. And they\’re absolutely right about the physics of it all. Once you\’re in orbit, you\’re not just halfway to the Moon, you\’re halfway to anywhere: a goodly chunk of the delta-v you need to do anything at all in space comes from getting out of the Earth\’s gravity well.
Of course, what they really need to make the project truly sexy is scandium. Everyone needs scandium, of course, for everything. Sprinkle it on your cream cakes for tea sort of everyone needs it.
But making the skin of the craft from scandium aluminide would solve the heating up on rentry problems a treat. 12 tonnes of scandium per machine, only cost $12 million or so. To you mate, bulk deal, $11,500,000.
For that you get a material that is very light indeed and yet is structurally sound until 1,450 oC.
We\’ll say delivery in, oooh, 2017 shall we? Better make it the morning of the 18th Oct…we\’re all scheduled to be pooping rainbows in the arvo.