Skylon Plans Include Base Station, Passenger Service

Rocketeers points to some interesting additions that Reaction Engines has made to its homepage concerning the Skylon space plane project. There is information about an orbital base station, passenger configurations, and the STERN and STRICT rocket development programs.

Although Skylon is being designed as a satellite launcher, plans call for it to be able to carry passengers into space:

The Skylon payload bay is 12.7m long, 4.6m wide and 4.6m high. During normal satellite delivery operations, the bay would carry an interchangeable payload container. When used for passenger transport, an alternative pressurised, self-contained module could readily be fitted between flights. This module would provide a breathable atmosphere and additional life support for 30 or 40 passengers. Under the floor of the cabin, part of the space is needed for life support equipment, with the rest available for passenger baggage and cargo.

The orbital base station would be a large facility where Skylon vehicles could dock:

Externally, provision is made for up to 4 Skylons to dock, this being accomplished by using a docking mechanism to grapple the approaching vehicle and move it into place, rather than have the vehicle perform a hard docking using its own thrusters. This minimises the risk of damage to either the OBS or Skylon.

The website also includes information about Reaction Engines’ STERN and STRICT rocket development programs. The programs are being done in collaboration with the University of Bristol and Airborne Engineering.