Skylon is a launch vehicle concept, which is the brain-child of Alan Bond who is CEO of Reaction Engines, a company based in Southern England (see earlier blog entry). The use of a novel propulsion concept allows the vehicle to take-off and land on a conventional runway, and acquire orbit without the aid of staging. This aircraft-like operational scenario will reduce the cost of mass into orbit by an order of magnitude, compared to expendable launch vehicles, claims Reaction Engines. Critical technologies associated with the Skylon Sabre engines will be further investigated in a summer test programme, and if they pass these, a further slice of investment funding amounting to £220 million will be released to take Skylon into the next phase of development.
I wish Alan and the RE team every success with the test programme – and hope to be around when Skylon makes its first test flight!