A Technical Overview of a SKYLON-based European Launch Service Operator

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M. Hempsell et al. (2015), JBIS, 68, pp.224-241

Refcode: 2015.68.224
Keywords: SKYLON, Next Generation European Launch System

Between 2012 and 2014 an industrial consortium led by Reaction Engines conducted a feasibility study for the European Space Agency with the objective to explore the feasibility of SKYLON as the basis for a launcher that meets the requirements established by ESA for the Next Generation European Launcher. SKYLON is a fully reusable single stage to orbit launch system under active development. The purpose of the Study, which was called SKYLON Based European Launch Service Operator (S-ELSO), was to support ESA decision making on launch service strategy by exploring the potential implications of this new launch system on future European launch capability and the European industry that supports it. The launch operator requirements centred on geostationary transfer orbit missions and the Study's main technical focus was on producing concept designs to demonstrate the feasibility of a complete launch infrastructure consisting of SKYLON, a reusable upper stage, and payload carriers. The requirement was for S-ELSO to operate from Centre Spatiale Guiana. The Study showed that the provision of new facilities, like SKYLON servicing buildings and a 5.9 km runway, and the links with existing CSG services such as payload preparation and propellant supply were feasible. The study showed an operational infrastructure fully able to meet European launch system requirements could be operational by 2024.

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