Progress has been made on the helium loop, liquid nitrogen cooling system and the Viper engine ready for pre-cooler testing to commence.
Helium Loop at the B9 Test Area.
The heat exchanger is the key piece of equipment of the Skylon space plane. There has not been any results announced about the heat exchanger work yet.
Reaction insists the heat exchanger works, but trials set to run to year-end are needed to demonstrate to waiting investors that the technology is viable. Then, the company says, its investors are ready to release £200 million ($325 million) for a 2012-14 project phase to build an engine demonstrator. If successful, a further £7.5 billion ($10 billion) should be forthcoming to develop the airframe for service from 2020, says the company.
An REL spokesperson announced that they had secured $350 million of further funding, contingent on successful completion of the full-sized precooled jet engine test in June 2011.
On May 9, 2011, REL stated that a preproduction prototype of the Skylon could be flying by 2016, and the proposed route would be a suborbital flight between the Guiana Space Centre near Kourou in French Guiana and the North European Aerospace Test Range, located in northern Sweden.
Pre-orders are expected in the 2011–2013 time frame coinciding with the formation of the manufacturing consortium