The Skylon spaceplane

The Skylon spaceplane – flying into orbit

A launch vehicle that can reach orbit with a single stage has long been the dream of rocket designers. Is that dream finally about to come true? A British company, Reaction Engines, is currently developing air-breathing engines to send single-stage vehicles into orbit and back. The unpiloted Skylon spaceplane, with its SABRE rocket engines, would take off and land using a conventional airport runway, carrying over 12 tonnes into orbit. Compared to today’s costly launchers, Skylon would provide inexpensive access to space. In this talk, the engine’s chief designer will bring us up to date on developments and describe how the background for this work was established by the UK’s efforts in rocket propulsion in the 1960s.


About Alan Bond

Alan Bond is the inventor of the SABRE engine, described as “the greatest advance in propulsion since the jet engine”, which would power the Skylon spaceplane into orbit. A rocket enthusiast since boyhood, Alan began his career at Rolls-Royce where he gained wide experience in liquid rocket engines, including work on Blue Streak. Subsequently he worked at the UK Atomic Energy Authority on the Joint European Torus (JET) and RFX nuclear fusion projects. In the 1970s he led the Project Daedalus study to build a craft capable of reaching Barnard’s Star, and in the 1980s designed the rocket engine for the proposed HOTOL space launcher. Skylon is the culmination of his lifetime’s ambition of designing a reusable single-stage-to-orbit spacecraft.

Reaction Engines Ltd