Mark Hempsell, Reaction Engines Ltd Future Programmes Director, has resigned from the Board of Directors in order to pursue a new venture which specialises in the development of space infrastructure. We are grateful that he has agreed to continue his work on the SKYLON project as an external consultant, which will ensure his knowledge and expertise are retained by the project. Roger Longstaff, who has over 30 years experience working on space transportation systems, including HOTOL, the X33 and SKYLON, will assume the position of SKYLON project manager in early 2014.
Reaction Engines Ltd have signed a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) for a €1 million study into the next European Launch System. The "Skylon-based European Launch Service Operator" contract has been finalised by the Launcher Directorate of the European Space Agency in Paris, France and work has started to study how the SKYLON spaceplane can meet Europe's Space access demands in terms of cost, flexibility and responsiveness, from the early 2020's.
Through the UK Space Agency, the Government is set to invest £60 million in the development of the SABRE - a British-designed rocket engine which could revolutionise the fields of propulsion and launcher technology, and significantly reduce the costs of accessing space.
SABRE has the potential to create 21,000 high value engineering and manufacturing jobs; maximise the UK's access to a conservatively estimated £13.8 billion launcher market over the next thirty years; and provide economic benefits from spill-over technology markets.
The fourth ATV, ATV 4, named "Albert Einstein", which was launched today on an Ariane 5 rocket, carries two plaques that commemorate the 80th Anniversary of the British Interplanetary Society (BIS). The two plaques will be taken to the International Space Station. It is planned for one to be returned to Earth while it is hoped its twin remains on the ISS permanently. The President of the British Interplanetary Society, Alistair Scott said, "This is a fantastic way of celebrating our 80th year and reminding people of the work we have done since the early 1930s to promote spaceflight and the exploration and use of space. We are so grateful to ESA, the ATV Team and the ISS Astronauts for allowing us to fly them"
Kirsten MacDonell, ESA ATV Cargo Manager who was instrumental in making the arrangements for the flight said, "The BIS has been promoting the study and exploration of astronautics for 80 years; inspiring generations of people from around the world. The 80th Anniversary of the British Interplanetary Society is a special occasion worth celebrating. It is an honour to fly these BIS anniversary plaques on ATV-4."
The plaques are 4 cm diameter disks, 3 mm deep and made of high grade aluminium alloy. Weighing less than 5 g each they are precision machined to depict the Society's 80th Anniversary Logo. They were sponsored by Reaction Engines Limited, and were made in the company's machining division, Brite Precision. Gordon Harrison, Reaction Engines' Production Director responsible for Brite Precision, said, "We are delighted to have made something that is actually flying in space, it shows off the capability of Brite Precision's new state of the art machines."
TechDemoSat-1 whose launch arrangements were announced today by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) will be carrying a plaque commemorating the 80th Anniversary of the founding of the British Interplanetary Society (BIS). The Plaque will be mounted on TechDemoSat-1 and then carried into orbit.
The Plaque was handed over to Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) last month in a ceremony conducted by BIS Council Member Gerry Webb, and Luis Gomes of the SSTL TechDemoSat-1 team who are building the satellite.
Gerry Webb is General Director of Commercial Space Technologies Limited who are the brokers for the launch of SSTL TechDemoSat-1 with the Russian Space Agency. Roscosmos. He arranged for the Plaque to be carried with both SSTL and Roscosmos.
The President of the British Interplanetary Society, Alistair Scott said, "This is a fantastic way of celebrating our 80th year and reminding people of the work we have done since the early 1930s to promote spaceflight and the exploration and use of space. We are so grateful to Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd and the TechDemoSat-1 Team for allowing us to fly with them"
Sir Martin Sweeting, Executive Chairman of SSTL commented "I am delighted that SSTL is able to offer this opportunity to BIS, an organisation which has done so much to promote and foster the UK's interest in space". TechDemoSat-1 is a truly British spacecraft, designed and manufactured here and flying British payloads, so it is a fitting vehicle for this commemorative plaque."
The plaque is identical to the two plaques that will be carried to the International Space Station in April 2013. It is a 4cm diameter disk, 3mm deep and made of high grade aluminium alloy. Weighing less than 5g each it is precision machined to depict the Society's 80th Anniversary Logo. It was sponsored by Reaction Engines Limited, and was made by the company's precision machining division, Brite Precision.
Reaction Engines Ltd. can announce today the biggest breakthrough in aerospace propulsion technology since the invention of the jet engine. Critical tests have been successfully completed on the key technology for SABRE, an engine which will enable aircraft to reach the opposite side of the world in under 4 hours, or to fly directly into orbit and return in a single stage, taking off and landing on a runway.
SABRE, an air-breathing rocket engine, utilises both jet turbine and rocket technology. Its innovative pre-cooler technology is designed to cool the incoming airstream from over 1,000°C to minus 150°C in less than 1/100th of a second (six times faster than the blink of an eye) without blocking with frost. The recent tests have proven the cooling technology to be frost-free at the crucial low temperature of -150°C.
The European Space Agency (ESA) has evaluated the SABRE engine's pre-cooler heat exchanger on behalf of the UK Space Agency, and has given official validation to the test results:
"The pre-cooler test objectives have all been successfully met and ESA are satisfied that the tests demonstrate the technology required for the SABRE engine development."
Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts said: "This is a remarkable achievement for a remarkable company. Building on years of unique engineering know-how, Reaction Engines has shown the world that Britain remains at the forefront of technological innovation and can get ahead in the global race. This technology could revolutionise the future of air and space travel."
Well over 100 test runs, undertaken at Reaction Engines Ltd's facility in Oxfordshire, integrated the ground-breaking flight-weight cooling technology and frost control system with a jet engine and a novel helium cooling loop, demonstrating the new technologies in the SABRE engine that drive its highly innovative and efficient thermodynamic cycle. This success adds to a series of other SABRE technology demonstrations undertaken by the company including contra-rotating turbines, combustion chambers, rocket nozzles, and air intakes and marks a major advance towards the creation of vehicles like SKYLON – a new type of reusable space vehicle that will be powered by SABRE engines, designed primarily to transport satellites and cargo into space. Wednesday 28 November 2012 Alan Bond, who founded Reaction Engines to re-build the UK's rocket propulsion industry and has led the research from the start, said:
"These successful tests represent a fundamental breakthrough in propulsion technology. Reaction Engines' lightweight heat exchangers are going to force a radical re-think of the design of the underlying thermodynamic cycles of aerospace engines. These new cycles will open up completely different operational characteristics such as high Mach cruise and low cost, re-usable space access, as the European Space Agency's validation of Reaction Engines' SABRE engine has confirmed. The REL team has been trying to solve this problem for over 30 years and we've finally done it. Innovation doesn't happen overnight. Independent experts have confirmed that the full engine can now be demonstrated. The SABRE engine has the potential to revolutionise our lives in the 21st century in the way the jet engine did in the 20th Century. This is the proudest moment of my life."
Dr Mark Ford, ESA's Head of Propulsion Engineering, said:
"One of the major obstacles to developing air-breathing engines for launch vehicles is the development of lightweight high-performance heat exchangers. With this now successfully demonstrated by Reaction Engines Ltd, there are currently no technical reasons why the SABRE engine programme cannot move forward into the next stage of development."