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Shelby Bates

Kevin Chun
Eric Gambill


Vehicle does not jettison hardware

Many development attempts in the past
Nuclear rockets

Vertical take off and landing rockets

Scramjet air-breathing
Modified jet engine

Horizontal Take Off

and Landing
Began in 1982
Air-breathing space
Combined team of
Rolls Royce and British
Government Funding


Liquid Oxygen Tanks

Cargo Bay
Liquid Hydrogen Tanks

Center of Pressure
10 meter shift forward
Large fuselage cross section to small wing cross section
Large forward fuselage overhang
Large Mach range

Center of Gravity
Shift to the rear end

Unstable in Flight
Loss of government funding in 1988

Founded in 1989
Alan Bond

John Scott-Scott


Richard Varvill

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineer

Started working with gas turbines and rockets
20 years UK Atomic Energy Authority
Rolls Royce and British Aircraft Corporation
Inventor of Rolls Royce RB545 engine

British Aerospace Corporation

Fuel Pump Systems
Black Arrow Project
British satellite rocket project from the 1960s

Retired in 2011

Rolls Royce Military Engine Division

Advanced gas turbines
Engine Design work for RB545
Winged launcher study for European Space






83.3 m

Fuselage Diameter

6.75 m


25.4 m

Unladen Mass

53 tons

Propellant Mass

277 tons

Nominal take-off mass

345 tons

Max air-breathing thrust

2 x 1350 kN

Isp in air-breathing thrust

35000 N s/kg

Max rocket thrust

2 x 1800 kN

Isp in rocket mode

4500 N s/kg

Operational Life

200 flights


13 meters long, 2.4 meter radius

Capable of 15 tons to Low Earth Orbit
Adaptable to cargo, multiple satellites, and human


Provided by the Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS)

or Reaction Control System (RCS)
Uses the cryogenically cooled liquid Hydrogen and
Liquid Oxygen
7 day operational period with onboard supply


Between 90 and 60 km altitude

Heat radiated with aeroshell
Layers of reflecting foil
Liquid Hydrogen evaporation


They key component of the success of Skylon

Combination of a hydrogen rocket and a jet engine
Travel up to five times the speed of sound



Sub-cooled liquid hydrogen as fuel

Sub-cooled liquid oxygen as oxidizer
Cooled to cryogenic temperatures
Warm air used in burner

Closed cycle helium loop in pre-cooler


Sabre Engine - What's Inside


How Sabre Works



Kevin Chun


Fixed problems
High fuel flow
Hydrogen embrittlement

In SABRE cycle the air remains gaseous

1st half is an air-breathing pre-cooled turbo-ramjet

Intake of 1250 tons of air
260 tons is oxygen that doesnt need to be carried

2nd half is a pure rocket

Dual functionality of as much engine hardware as
Keeps system weight and installation drag to a minimum
Using same components means air must be compressed

to similar pressures as in rocket cycle

Air passes through inlet and compressed
Compressor is driven by a combustion powered turbine

Hydrogen is heat
sink for He prior to
Helium extracts
heat from air and
turns air turbocompressor
Preburner keeps
He at set

Mostly for lower

speed operation

Major heat exchanger

Extracting heat from

incoming air in the

Topping up cycle flow
temperatures to
maintain constant
turbine operating
Extracting rejected heat
from the power cycle
via regenerator loops
for thermal capacity

Design case: Mach 5

Utilized realistic
performance for each
engine components
Entropy generation due

to finite driving
temperature difference
Irreversibility due to
pressure loss
Associated polytropic
efficiencies for
compressors and

Isentropic relations
for the cycle yields
pressure ratio of
The realistic cycle
with the
factors yields
pressure ratio of

Liquid Bi-propellant system

At Mach 5.14 and a 28.5 km altitude the intake closes
Utilizes onboard LOX

Less mission velocity, or V, required for rocket phase

Still where majority of V is gained

Dual cycle outlay


Pre-cooler utilizes efficient counterflow design

consisting of many thousands of small bore thin
wall tubes
Counterflow minimizes finite driving temperature

difference, or T
Tubes give lightest matrix due to high pressure difference
between two fluid streams
Fins and other extended surfaces are heavy compared to
the added surface area

Hot air is arranged in a external crossflow

Matrix has large frontal area

Tubes are brazed together into modules
Module matrices are wrapped into cylindrical drum
Prevents excessive

engine nacelle wave

drag by reducing
flow constriction into

Development of precooler
Small experimental pre-cooler JMHX in 2001
Single Viper jet engine module in 2005

2 SCIMITAR modules during LAPCAT in 2008

Full-scale Viper jet engine test in 2012

0.38mm diameter tubes with 50 m wall

Tube layout of 10 layers alternating between 41 and
42 tubes resulting in 415 tubes
40mm square with thickness of 4 mm

Power transfer rates of close to 2 GW/m^3

Built for temps of 100 K N2(g) or He(g) to cool 1000 K
Investigated brazing methods and cooling elements

Viper engine demonstration module

0.98mm diameter tubes with 40 m wall
Tube layout of 460 tubes that were 2.2m long
Investigated assembly and manufacturing issues

2 full scale SCIMITAR engine modules

0.88mm bore with 40m wall thickness
Used to test brazing under industrial process

9% scale SABRE pre-cooler

Operated at same temps, pressures, mass fluxes, and
Reynolds numbers as full scale
Investigated mechanical integrity issues
50km of heat exchanger tubing weighing about 50 kg

Tests occurred in 2012

Tests investigated
Aerodynamic stability and uniformity
Structural integrity
Freedom of vibration across a wide range of flight envelope
Preliminary cryogenic cooling

Tests secured Reaction Engines Ltd $60 million from

Heart of the investment will be the SABRE engine
technical design work

Improving the lightweight heat exchanger technology and

manufacturing capability.
Wind tunnel and flight testing of SABRE engine components
Significant part of the program will be a ground
demonstration of the engine.

Prototype SABRE by 2017

Flight tests around 2020

Eric Gambill

One exit nozzle required for 2 engine types

Requires 400 MW pre-cooler for turbo-compressor intake
Requires liquid helium coolant
Requires small coolant tubes for reduced weight

2 Shock asymmetric closeable intake nozzle

Maintenance cost
Part reliability
Reduced drag in rocket mode

Air-Breathing Mode
Rocket Mode

Pre-cooler deals with 1350 K to 123.5 K temp. gradient

Small coolant tubes increase heat exchanger surface area
Minimize drag and increase exchange efficiency
Small tubes have close proximity
Counter flow design
gives lesser temp. gradient

Freezing moisture in pre-cooler

Liquid helium temp. of 16 K -18 K
Frozen moisture could
cause excess blockage

Refinement of brazing process for nickel to phosphorous

Used eletroless nickel plating technique
Anodic electro-plating develops varying magnetic field
Tube inner diameter of 0.84 mm
No surface tension problems in small scale tests


Nickel-phosphorous eutectic formed

Wall Colmonoy as Nicrobraz 10

Normal brazing temp. 980-1000oc

Caused excessive erosion
Refined temp. without loss of
structural integrity
910oc resulted in 5m erosion

1.9g pull-up + 0.1g gust @ Mach 5.4

0.48g manoeuver limit

2g load limit for H2 tanks

1.25g limit depressurized

GTOW = 303 short ton

13 ton payload limit

Payload centered over wing

HOTOL predicted 10m CG shift after payload drop

Circular cross-section for H2 & O2 tanks

Elongated for improved Mach effects
Increased skin surface area
Structurally simple/improved pressure capabilities

Large bending moments from elongated shape

4 longerons @ 45o points
300mm spaced ring frames
Improve torsion
Create global body rigidity
Split fuel and payload compartments
Concerning pressure differences on re-entry
Increased nose/tail cone structure
Unidirectional CFRP
ult= 1500 MPa

Ring Frames

Longeron Locations

Aerodynamic heating
Aeroshell passively cooled on ascent to 855 K
Corrugated SiC

fiber reinforced glass ceramic

Allows for expansion
100 times lower
manufacturing costs
Denser and less
thermal resistance than C/SiC
Doubled drag penalty

Aerodynamic heating cont.

Dynamically controlled re-entry
Keeps skin at 1100 K
Uses skin temp. sensors and rocket assist
Reflective titanium manifold blanket
10 foils, 3mm apart, 10m thickness
Creates a steady heat/pressure change

Aerodynamic heating cont.

H2 creates convection between foil gaps
640 K inner foil temp.
1070 K outer foil temp

H2 tank temp below nitrogen dew point

Re-expanding nitrogen = depressurization

130mm gap between Aeroshell and tanks
10mm PVC insulation around tanks

Tanks must remain pressurized
Limits fuel burn times/ orbital maneuvers
300mm spaced frames allow for depressurization to NPSH pump

415 kg water onboard incase of brakes overheat

Manufacturing Costs
$2.2 Billion for engineering/developement
$13 million to build

2 day wait between flights
200 flight operation limit

Shelby Bates
Kevin Chun
Eric Gambill

Similar to SABRE engine

Mach 5 cruise
Optimized for atmospheric flight only

Belgium to Australia in 2-4 hours

Skylon would be a very reusable way to get cargo to

Lowers cost of freight to LEO

Operates for 200 flights

Ideas date back to 50s

Requires low-cost reusable launch system (Skylon)
Modular assembly required
Used as stepping stone for Cis-Lunar and other
high-energy space missions

No actual prototype yet
Pre-cooler has been proven to work

No longer in lab environment

Near future use predictions

New technology implementations
SABRE Engine
Thermodynamic leap in technology
One-engine 2 cycle usage

Re-entry skin heat capabilities

Re-entry body design

Re-entry flight capabilities

BBC story on SABRE

Alan Bond Talks about SABRE