Skylon / SABRE Update - The rocket based combined cycle SABRE engine to be used in the Skylon single-stage-to-orbit space launch system continues to make good development progress. In addition, the BBC news reported that UK government is working on legislative changes which will allow for open-sky test flights of the integrated vehicle in the near future.
The move is aimed at smoothing the path to market of novel launch systems such as the Skylon concept being developed by Reaction Engines Limited (REL). The Oxfordshire company’s robotic vehicle is part aeroplane, part rocket. It would take off horizontally from a runway and go straight to orbit without the need for the multiple propellant stages seen in today’s throw-away launchers. Skylon would then land back on Earth at the same runway.
But the vehicle’s unique capabilities mean it does not fit into any current regulatory regime, and unless that is changed its entry into service will be blocked. Speaking at the Farnborough International Airshow, Science Minister David Willetts said he intended to address this issue with both the UK Department of Transport and the European Commission.