EUROPE OKS SPACE PLANE

While we're on the subject of space, a few weeks ago I blogged about the USA's development of a drone space plane, capable of launching from a normal runway, achieving low orbit, and then returning like a space shuttle. In effect, the technology makes the space shuttle obsolete (and that of course, is one of those things that makes one go "hmmmm..."). Now in the wake of a new Chinese-Venezuelan space cooperation, Europe has made it's own announcement:

UK and European space agencies give a go for Skylon spaceplane

This is significant not only from the space technology point of view, but from the geopolitical, for it is another signal that the UK is aligning itself very definitely with Europe, and not the USA, and doing so in the geopolitical "high ground" of space. In the wake of the messages being sent back and forth by the Obama Administration and London during the president's recent visit there (see yesterday's blog), this is again, in my opinion, a significant development.

Technologically, this article makes me, well, just plain suspicious. The technological proposals for this type of hybridized engine have been around since (you guessed it), the Nazis. In my book The Nazi International I mentioned similar schemes were proposed by none other than Dr. Ronald Richter. Similar schemes - albeit highly impractical ones - were proposed by the Nazi engineer Saenger. I mention this odd historical context only to highlight one important point, namely, that we may be relatively assured that the public announcement by the Europeans to press ahead with the development of this technology probably lags by several years their actual covert development of it.

And it is also, in my opinion, another veiled message, namely, that the technology can be weaponized, for indeed, that was Saenger's original purpose for it, and certainly Richter was alluding to similar modes of deployment when he mentioned his own ideas to the US Air Force. It's another indicator, in my opinion, that there is now a definite fissure, if not fully-fledged fracture, emerging between Washington and Europe, notwithstanding the latter's tacit support of Washington in the current Middle East upheavals (but let us remember, that it was France, and not Washington, that took the lead with respect to Libya).  The message here seems to me to be clear, and not so subtle: Europe intends to remain in space, and to remain a "player," with or without Washington's approval.

11 thoughts on “EUROPE OKS SPACE PLANE”

  1. this is sad towards the U.S.(why I am not surprise), that we have to rely on Europe for doing something that we’ve been doing for the past 40 or 50 years on our own soil!!!, sure I like to see other countries doing this, but, putting our country (in the back burner) is like the those “FASCIST” countries that don’t like our political and ideological ideas and our freedoms, if America wasn’t around to make the ‘leap’ to space?, who else wants to go in to space?
    how long it will take for us (citizens) are willing go to space?, 20, 40, 50, 100, or maybe a 1,000 years from now, while Europe becomes to powerful to keep it under control???? (no one).

  2. Not much media coverage of new helium airships going into production, that look to revolutionize cargo and travel. Can stay in the sky for 3 weeks continuously, does not need a runway, landing strip or fixed ground support, carry up 1000 people, bigger models to carry up to 1k tons, more fuel efficient than aircraft. Emphasis on the military, but civilian uses would seem to supplant aircraft in many areas. Is this too good to be true, is helium cheap?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-12110386
    http://www.hybridairvehicles.com/
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKAyJ3zKTus

  3. From the beginning I always though the Space Shuttle was a white elephant and my suspicions were confrim when I found out that they were built like one of kind each one no wonder they were so expensive to fly no aircraft manufacturer would do that he would have been fired from his job what was needed was to build them with a design were you could off the shelf standard assembled parts that would really brought down the price of space flight the shuttle was a dog and poney show from the start it look like your standard government ripoff scam they already had the technology remember the X-15 rocket plane continued development of that and other ideas would have given us a surface to orbit carrier we could have been proud off instead that piece of junk.

    1. I am astounded at how far America has fallen, in my lifetime. When I was born they were walking on the Moon, now they can’t even put men in space.

  4. I thought the announcement was a little odd when I saw it as well. Of course, I have been following such things since I was a teen, and have gotten used to announcements about things which never (in public) come to pass (Popular Science is good for that sort of thing).

    Still, they act as though scramjet technology is still too difficult to do easily, yet I feel sure they have had them flying for decades at least. After all, it is only a matter of time, personnel, and funding…….

  5. Universe missing mass issue solved?

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/science/Oz-girl-solves-mystery-of-universes-missing-mass/articleshow/8643855.cms

    “MELBOURNE: Astrophysicists have for long baffled with the universe’s “missing mass” puzzle . Now, an Australian student claims to have finally cracked the scientific conundrum.

    Physicists knew that universe contained more mass than was visible in planets, stars and other objects — but didn’t know where to find it. They estimated about half the mass required to keep the universe functioning as it does was “missing” . Now, 22-year-old Amelia Fraser-McKelvie , an aerospace engineering student has discovered the missing material.

    She conducted a targeted Xray search of vast structures known as “filaments of galaxies” . Her analysis of material confirmed that mass was present in the filaments. “If we’re looking long distances from Earth we’re detecting mass, but if we’re looking closer to Earth we only see about half the mass that we’re expecting to see. This is called the missing mass problem . People have theorized that this mass has settled in filaments that extend between galaxies , so we tested & confirmed this prediction,” she said.”

  6. I can’t get that awkward moment out of my mind when Pres. Obama made the toast as the music was playing. Did he have a brain freeze? Was he deliberately given false protocol instructions? Or did he do it on purpose as a middle finger to the UK? I think he looked genuinely embarrassed. Something’s definitely amiss.

    1. What I thought was weird is that the band struck up “God Save the Queen” AFTER Obama was speaking and proposed the toast! Obama didn’t pick up on the cue (as he would have if it had been the “Star Spangled Banner”…so he kept speaking and was left with egg on his face.

      But who cue’d the band to start playing WHILE the U.S. President was talking?

      It looked to me like he was embarassed on purpose by the Brits….

      (for the record, I am not an Obama apologist by any means!….just noticing what I notice!)

      1. “It looked to me like he was embarassed on purpose by the Brits….’

        Most people are seeing it with American eyes and are saying the Queen was arrogant. What they don’t understand is the royals live their entire lives by protocol. Like trained animals, once a ritual commences, they are compelled to complete it. And they must maintain that stiff upper lip, at all times.

        You are right about the music though. Who started it in the middle of his speech? And was it started to embarrass Obama, the Queen, or both?

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