Engineer and leading UK rocket scientist Alan Bond received an honorary degree of Doctor of Science from the University of Warwick on Tuesday 18th July 2017. During the ceremony he revealed that the honorary degree from Warwick was particularly special to him due to a number of key Coventry and Warwickshire influences on his career and life.
Alan was inspired to take up rocket engineering when in 1953 he read an episode of the comic strip Dan Dare in a particular Dan Dare story called “Operation Saturn’ was published in the Eagle comic in 1953 http://www.dandare.org/dan/stories/saturn/saturn.html
He joined up with a number of amateur Rocket enthusiasts, including a group in Leamington Spa, building and launching several hundred rockets as a teenager.
- Listen to Alan Bond discuss his career in this exclusive interview:
This brought him to the attention of leading UK rocket engineer Val Cleaver who hired him to work on the engines powering the UK’s Blue Streak missile and Black Arrow launch vehicle. Parts of these engines were manufactured in the Rolls Royce workshops in Parkside in Coventry and they were then tested in the company’s facilities at Ansty. During his time in the region Alan’s son was born in the then Walsgrave hospital (now part of University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust).
He first worked on liquid rocket engines, principally the RZ2 (liquid oxygen / kerosene) and the RZ20 (liquid oxygen / liquid hydrogen) at Rolls Royce, and he was also involved with flight trials of the UK’s Blue Streak satellite launch rocket at Woomera in Australia.
He also worked for around two decades on the UK Atomic Energy Authority's Culham Laboratory on nuclear fusion, on the JET and RFX nuclear research projects. He also explored how to use fusion to enable interplanetary space travel and he was the leading author of the report on the Project Daedalus interstellar, a fusion powered starship proposal, which was published by the British Interplanetary Society.
In the 1980s, he was one of the creators of the HOTOL spaceplane project, and he brought a key jet engine design that he had invented to the HOTOL project.
In 1989, Alan Bond was one of the founders of Reaction Engines Ltd. REL is developing a single-stage orbital spaceplane called Skylon, and other advanced vehicles including a hypersonic airliner concept as part of the European LAPCAT programme. The projects have involved the practical development of hydrogen fuelled, pre-cooled air breathing rocket engines, most notably, an engine called SABRE (Synergic Air Breathing Rocket Engine). The aim being to create a vehicle which can take off like a normal aircraft and fly into space. Skylon video at: https://vimeo.com/42682980
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PR451b 21st July2017