Issue 42, 20 February 2009 -- 40th Apollo Anniversary Year

  1. Newsflash: Skylon spaceplane project gets ESA funding, by Stephen Ashworth

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(1) Newsflash: Skylon spaceplane project gets ESA funding

by Stephen Ashworth

Congratulations to Reaction Engines Ltd on being awarded a one-million euro investment by the European Space Agency!

This is excellent news, and it fully justifies my description of the Skylon spaceplane project -- "a revolution in access to space is quietly gathering momentum in the Oxfordshire countryside" (Spaceflight, Nov. 2008, p.420).

Alan Bond, Managing Director of Reaction Engines, has said: "Skylon could reduce the cost of getting into space by a factor of ten and improve the reliability by a thousand." Skylon therefore has the potential to overturn the present-day high-cost, low-reliability and low-traffic pattern of space access, and launch a second revolution in how we use and benefit from space -- notably through the future large-scale markets of space tourism, space manufacturing and space solar power.

This incoming funding is additional to around 5 million pounds of private investment which has been supporting the company's work so far.

The funding will support the continuing technology demonstration programme, focused on three key areas of the innovative Sabre engine:

See BBC news item by Jonathan Amos.

Read Reaction Engines' press release.

For the latest news on space solar power, see Universe Today, 18 February 2009, item by Nancy Atkinson.

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