The testing of the Pre-cooler, now fully integrated into the B9 test stand with the Viper jet engine, has finally begun this month after a number of delays shaking down the system. The initial tests have gone very well and represent a good start to the test campaign which will last several months.
The flow thorough the Pre-cooler has been found to be aerodynamically stable without any significant structural deflection or vibration.
The next major steps are
* ground test a full SABRE engine
* fly a few subscale “Nacelle Test Vehicles” to test the engines and (especially) inlet geometry at high speeds and low pressures
* plan is build a full prototype
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