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An update from the Spacefleet Project

Published by Rob on Tue Oct 14, 2008 9:12 pm
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The Space Fellowship spoke with Ray Wright (Spacefleet CEO) in January this year where we asked how the Spacefleet Project was progressing. Since that interview the Spacefleet Project has continued to seek funding, Ray now updates us on the latest news from the company.

Ray setup the company in 2004 with a view to developing a project to design, build and sell a craft for space tourism, their design is called the SF-01.

The SF-01 is a titanium-built lifting body, carrying two pilots and up to eight passengers up to a maximum height above the Earth of around 340km. A lower apogee would be sacrificed for greater cross-range capability. The vehicle is to be powered by four LOX/LH2 engines of four combustion chambers each, in which some of the fuel is pre-combusted to provide drive for turbo-pumps and a gaseous inlet for oxygen to a vortex-type combustion, designed to minimise heating of the combustion chamber. Hydrogen would be injected into a cooling jacket around the combustion chambers and expansion nozzles. The overall effect would be engines of high reliability and longevity. Individual combustion chambers and other engine components on the vehicle would be compartmentalised for extra safety.

The Space Fellowship posted an update in September this year which highlighted how the project was still alive and kicking. Ray had written that “we are still trying to find funding, which is, of course, a very difficult thing to do for a project of this type”.

I took some time to speak with Ray this week and he told me of the latest financial happenings at the Spacefleet Project. He also promised to keep the Space Fellowship updated with the organisation’s progress.

Ray told me “We had a meeting in April at Coventry University, between Natalya Lyzikova of Yuzhnoye SDO, Yulian Protsan of Laboratory of Advanced Jet Propulsion, Ukraine, Professor Paul Ivey of UC and Ingrid Howes, also UC, who is a funding administrator there. The outcome was an agreement in principle that Yuzhnoye would support the project if finance became available, but that was as far as we got, because, in order to make a bid for EU FP7 funding, we needed another collaborator in a EU country, and we could not make that arrangement.

He later added “However, since then I have made contact with a fund manager in London who is also a space enthusiast. Despite having to cancel one meeting a few weeks ago, he is still keen to talk to me and we are now set to meet on October 30th. He may well know people who could be interested in the project, with the connections in the financial world that he has. At least he could put the prospect of funding into perspective and give me a better idea of whether I am trying to do something only moderately insane, or totally mad. That is, the answer may be that one needs to be Elon Musk or Richard Branson or give up. I don’t think the current economic woes will affect the prospects much, because I was never going to get money from a bank. I am keeping my fingers crossed that I will have some better news for you after October 30th. Meanwhile, the fight goes on!

Please feel free to visit them at http://www.spacefleet.org.uk/

Read a previous interview at http://spacefellowship.com/News/?p=4158

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