The good news for the British designed spaceplane, Skylon, is that the European Space Agency (ESA) is going to test some advanced ceramic and ablative used for thermal protection on space vehicles re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere, within the next couple of years. The bad news is that the vehicle (Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle – IXV) looks more like the space shuttle or X-37B than it does Skylon.
So what does this really mean for Skylon? Are British designers going to lose out yet again? I hope not, if for only one reason. Skylon, like Concorde, looks elegant. I don’t know about you, but I like my air- and space-planes to look nice.