News: January 2011

Company News


Special Issue of JBIS on SKYLON

JBIS Cover

This month a dedicated issue of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society (JBIS) published five papers from REL on SKYLON’s systems engineering processes and ideas on how SKYLON could support space stations and missions beyond low-Earth-orbit (LEO).

The papers are:

  • The Requirement Generation Process for the SKYLON Launch System
    Mark Hempsell and Roger Longstaff

  • An Analysis of the SKYLON Infrastructure
    Mark Hempsell

  • Technical and Operations Design of the SKYLON Upper Stage
    Mark Hempsell and Alan Bond

  • The Interaction between SKYLON and the International Space Station
    Mark Hempsell

  • A Design for an Orbital Assembly Facility for Complex Missions
    Simon Feast and Alan Bond

JBIS can be purchased from the British Interplanetary Society (£40 or £10 if you are a BIS Member)

Journal of the British Interplanetary Society


Docking Hatch Mock-ups Ready For Test


Mock-ups of two hatch openings have been completed and are now ready for ergonomic testing. The tests will compare the 81 cm maximum hatch size of the new International Docking Standard (with the guide petals removed) and the hatch in the Universal Space Interface System (USIS) which is 148 cm x 80 cm.

The USIS was created for the SKYLON infrastructure studies as existing docking and berthing port designs and the new International Docking Standard are too limited to exploit SKYLON’s capabilities.




Details of the USIS can be found in the SKYLON Users’ Manual:



Click here for Details of the International Docking Standard.


New REL Employees

During the past month, REL has welcomed Mechanical Technician, Barry Coulling, and Senior Development Engineer, Anthony Haynes, to the team.

REL has also welcomed Luke Bowerman, Tom Hodges, Andrew Donovan and Luke Waclawek as Production Operatives at REL’s Manufacturing Facility this month.

General News


Spaceflight Advertisement

Spaceflight Ad

The first SKYLON advertisement has appeared in Spaceflight magazine this month. Look out for future advertisements which will feature SKYLON’s capabilities and hardware.











SKYLON on Planetary Radio

Planetary Radio

On 10th January Planetary Radio aired a short piece in which the Planetary Society’s Executive Director, Bill Nye, enthused over SKYLON. He certainly understands the vision of what SKYLON will mean for spaceflight when it comes into operation, and conveyed it with infectious enthusiasm. However, it is not quite as difficult as he suggests; he states we have to achieve the same ratio of dry weight to fuelled weight as a beer can.

The real figures are:

An aluminium drinks can: 3.5%
A steel drinks can: 8%
Hydrogen/oxygen pure rocket SSTO: 12%

While we do have a real challenge to reach the required dry mass ratio, we do have much more mass than the drinks can analogy suggests.

Hear the show here: SKYLON on Planetary Radio


A New Arrival

Richard Varvill, REL’s Technical Director, and his wife Marianne have recently had a new baby boy named Charlie Buzz. Congratulations from all at REL to them both.

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