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Comment Re:Stupid article (Score 3, Insightful) 226

So let me get this straight; you think you have spotted a major flaw in their design that was not spotted by various governments, space agencies and aerospace companies that have thoroughly analysed this project? Have you done the sums and found that the precoolers have more mass than the oxygen saved? Have you worked out the losses due to drag?

I was talking about integrating stages, not payload. SpaceX still have to and always will have to do that. The TPS isn't magic either They are already talking to manufacturers about how to build it. Most importantly though is due to the aerodynamics of the vehicle it will have a much milder re-entry than the Space Shuttle, only needing the same kind of thermal protection it has in certain critical areas.

And no, SpaceX does not have a reusable vehicle that actually exists. They haven't yet recovered a first stage, never mind reflown one.

Please, could people actually investigate this project, its history and the major players who have invested in it before dismissing it out of hand based on intuition?

Comment Re:Skylon Pros and Cons (Score 2) 226

Your opinion is based in ignorance then. Costs cannot come down without re-usability and solid rockets are not reusable. The Shuttle SRBs had reusable casing - which had to be separated into segments, refilled with solid fuel, and then put back to together. Ever see an Airbus A320 get chopped into segments between flights?

Comment Re:Skylon Pros and Cons (Score 4, Insightful) 226

Wrong on multiple points

It never becomes a scramjet. Not being a scramjet is in fact the entire point behind the last few decades of research. You can either try to burn fuel in a supersonic flow through your engine (scramjet) or you can slow the flow to subsonic and compress it so the fuel can burn properly (ramjets etc.) - problem is, this compression superheats the air. SABRE dumps the excess heat into the cryogenic hydrogen the vehicle carries so that you can operate an engine at high Mach number without its insides melting.

As for too many moving parts; they precooler itself does not appear to have any moving parts. It needs a liquid helium cooling loop to connect it to the hydrogen supply, but that isn't overly complex. Everything behind that is well established jet/rocket engine technology. Even if you assume that each precooler + bypass is itself as complicated as enough engine, the spacecraft only has as many "moving parts" as an ordinary rocket with 4 engines. SpaceX happily flies a rocket with 9 engines and will likely be able to reuse its first stage in a cost effective way.

Comment Re:Not so fast (Score 3, Insightful) 226

They have worked out their cost/kg and found it to be lower - and had their sums checked by third parties. I have the feeling this project is largely not being taken seriously because Americans don't pay attention to anything outside their borders (and generally refuse to believe any worthwhile advance comes from outside the US)

Comment Re:So where's their spaceplane? (Score 5, Insightful) 226

They have built something. A precooler that can cool incoming air from 1000C to -150C as it comes into an engine intake at Mach 5, and is light and small enough to fit into an aircraft engine. This is the main part of the vehicle that is a big unknown, and they have shown it works in view of experts from government and industry.

Comment Re:So where's their spaceplane? (Score 5, Insightful) 226

SpaceX started with a lot of money behind it, the support of NASA, and they are doing something very conventional (multi-stage LOx-Kerosene rockets) albeit better than the competition. Reaction engines are aiming at what they claim (with good reason) to be the biggest advance in propulsion since the jet engine. Snarky crap on slashdot is quick enough to write; R&D takes a long time.

Comment Re:Only $240M? (Score 1) 226

They have specced billions to get to a flying spacecraft that is ready to be sold to vendors. The money they have got gets them to their next step; a ground test of a full engine. At that point they will be able to unlock more funding as the risk will have gone down. This method has got them this far; they secured funding from BAE and the UK government by demonstrating that the key enabling technology - the precooler - works.

Comment Re:Stupid article (Score 5, Insightful) 226

If you think saving money on LOx is in any way the aim of Skylon, you have demonstrated your utter inability to grasp basic rocket science. Its about saving mass; and Skylon does a hell of a lot of that. So much so that (by the estimation of all the third parties who have looked at the design - including the UK government, ESA, DLR and recently the USAF) it can achieve SSTO operation. It takes off and lands like a plane, so no need to integrate it each time. That is an advance on even SpaceX - they have to manufacture a new second stage and attach it to the reusable first stage.

Comment Re:All bullies are always the enemy (Score 1) 618

I assume you are talking about the SJWs? Those who will descend like a pack of harpies on anybody who dissents from their ideology, and then when they meet resistance, cry "harassment" and get their friends in various media outlets to write factually incorrect articles claiming that the SJWs victims launched unprovoked attacks on them.

Leveraging always beats prototyping.