We quickly understood our client’s problems and developed a novel, but elegant solution to support a ESA programme.

42 Technology was appointed by Reaction Engines Ltd – REL – to provide strategic engineering consultancy and help with the mechanical design of key operational features of SKYLON, a re-usable spaceplane designed to provide reliable and inexpensive access to space.

Unpiloted spaceplane

SKYLON will be used primarily for satellite deployment and is projected to cut the cost of delivering a satellite into orbit from over £150 million to £6 million or less. The spaceplane is designed to take off from a conventional runway carrying a 15-tonne payload — similar to the NASA Space Shuttle — and uses a new generation of combined-cycle, air-breathing engines to reach its target orbit in a single stage.

SKYLON will accelerate to just over Mach 5 using atmospheric oxygen before switching the engines to use an on-board liquid oxygen supply to take it to orbit. The unpiloted vehicle will release its payload then re-enters the atmosphere and land. REL has part funded the development of its SABRE hybrid engine with grants from The European Space Agency, BAE Systems and other bodies and is currently testing its first SABRE engine prototypes.

We are delighted with the fresh thinking 42 Technology brought to the challenge. They quickly understood our problems and quickly devised novel but elegant solutions considerably enhanced the SKYLON vehicle’s operational flexibility.

Mark Hempsell, Future Programmes Director, Reaction Engines Ltd

42 Technology was brought in to provide fresh ideas and thinking to the SKYLON programme. By working with experts from our network of associates, we created a highly cost-effective team and quickly brought on-board additional resources as the work progressed. One of the first projects was providing advice on the mechanical engineering of the satellite mounting and deployment system and researching opportunities to further optimise for reliability and weight.