[ExI] Skylon was New article

Adrian Tymes atymes at gmail.com
Sun Sep 14 05:53:56 UTC 2014

On Fri, Sep 12, 2014 at 3:15 PM, Keith Henson <hkeithhenson at gmail.com>

> Good questions.  It's always a good idea to have more than one way to
> do something. Unfortunately, there are no other spaceplane projects
> (that I know about) in the works.  There were others some years ago,
> but they all ran into intractable engineering problems or funding
> issues or both.

I said start with spaceplane.  There are alternatives.

The main thing causing the funding problems is the lack of market.  You
have to build up the customer base for space in general, in order to
generate the funding for the level of space access you're talking about.

> The minimum sized power satellite project is

way smaller than your assumptions lead you to swear by.

> SpaceX Falcon Heavy (recoverable) might lift 45-50 tons to LEO so it
> would take ~3000 flights a year.  At that rate I am confident they
> could get the cost low enough. That rate is about 8 flights a day.
> Musk is on the record opposing power satellites, but if someone gets a
> chance to ask him, it would be interesting to see if he thinks it is
> possible to reach that launch rate.

He can't - not without building a whole lot of them and dedicating them all
to the mission.  There's no way a single unit of that design could turn
around 8 flights a day, probably not even 8 a month.

If you really want to do solar power satellites the way you're thinking,
you must first solve the cost and capacity of space access.  That means
getting your hands - or at least mind - dirty with figuring out how to get
space access going before multi-ton solar power satellites.
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