The BBC reports on the start of SABRE engine precooler tests at Reaction Engines, a key milestone in the development of the Skylon SSTO spaceplane. The project was featured on both the BBC 6 and 10 o'clock News:-
"We intend to go to the Farnborough International Air Show in July with a clear message," explained REL managing director Alan Bond.
"The message is that Britain has the next step beyond the jet engine; that we can reduce the world to four hours - the maximum time it would take to go anywhere. And that it also gives us aircraft that can go into space, replacing all the expendable rockets we use today."
Rocketeer comments: That's the ticket ;-) A good day for UK space.
The testing of the Pre-cooler, now fully integrated into the B9 test stand with the Viper jet engine, has finally begun this month after a number of delays shaking down the system. The initial tests have gone very well and represent a good start to the test campaign which will last several months.
The flow thorough the Pre-cooler has been found to be aerodynamically stable without any significant structural deflection or vibration.
"The system is not yet ready to test in flight, so Reaction Engines has fitted the pre-cooler in front of a stationary Rolls-Royce Viper jet engine in a test pit close to its headquarters at Culham Science Centre in Oxfordshire. Bond wants to prove that the pre-cooler can work, on the ground at least, in time to present the technology at the Farnborough International Air Show in July. Then the drive to sign up £220m investment will begin."
The ESA-sponsored Space Propulsion 2012 conference will take place from 7th to 10th May at the Bordeaux Conference Centre, Bordeaux, France. The conference website is online along with a draft programme. Both Skylon ("Pre-cooler design and development for combined-cycle engines") and LAPCAT ("Injector layout optimization for the LAPCAT MR2 Mach 8 Cruiser") will be featured in Session 24 on Hypersonic Propulsion.