Categories: Space Flight

Flying Sky Car: The Skylon Explainer Inspired by xkcd

Just about everyone can claim to being inspired by the xkcd webcomic — or at least enjoying a shared nerd moment. A favorite comic of many space fans is the Up Goer Five poster, which explains the Saturn V rocket in the “10 hundred” (i.e. 1,000) English words that are used most frequently.

Now, one fan of xkcd, celerycoloured on reddit has created a poster of the single-stage-to-orbit Skylon spaceplane being built by the British company Reaction Engines Limited (REL). With some great hand-drawn graphics, this homage poster uses — again — the most commonly used words in the English language to explain Skylon:

“The first space car that may go to space without parts falling off” describes the single stage to orbit idea, and “this space car can burn the air outside so it doesn’t have to take so much breathing type air or drop parts” explains the air-breathing SABRE engines.

“I’d just like people to know more about REL,” celerycoloured told Universe Today. “Their efforts towards reusable SSTO spacecraft is one of the coolest things I’ve seen!”

Read about Skylon in more complex terms here.

In other space plane news today, ESA’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle IXV successfully launched on a Vega rocket from the Kourou space center for a one hour forty minute test flight. This is a lifting body vehicle similar to the X37B, however the IXV splashed down in the ocean for this first flight.

Artist impression of ESA’s Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV). Credit: ESA – J. Huart.
Nancy Atkinson

Nancy has been with Universe Today since 2004, and has published over 6,000 articles on space exploration, astronomy, science and technology. She is the author of two books: "Eight Years to the Moon: the History of the Apollo Missions," (2019) which shares the stories of 60 engineers and scientists who worked behind the scenes to make landing on the Moon possible; and "Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos" (2016) tells the stories of those who work on NASA's robotic missions to explore the Solar System and beyond. Follow Nancy on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Nancy_A and and Instagram at and https://www.instagram.com/nancyatkinson_ut/

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