in space travel. Pity the Europeans are leading on this one.
Exciting stuff, though.
Sabre rocket engine could open up access to space as never before
A £60m pledge from the UK government puts Reaction Engines' Sabre rocket on course to change space exploration for ever
Imagine taking off from a runway like a normal aeroplane but flying so high and so fast that when you unclip your seatbelt, you float around the cabin. Look out of the windows: on one side is the inky blackness of deep space, while on the other is the electric blue of your home planet, Earth.
This is no joyride for a few brief minutes of space-tourism weightlessness. Instead you are three, five or even 10 times higher than those little hops. In front of you is your destination: a space station. Perhaps it is a hotel or a place of work. You are in low earth orbit – and you've got there in far less time than it takes for a transatlantic flight.
This is the promise of the spaceplane, and it took a step closer to reality yesterday. UK Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts confirmed the government's £60m investment in Reaction Engines Ltd.
Spaceplanes are what engineers call single-stage-to-orbit (if you really want to geek out, just use the abbreviation: SSTO). They have long been a dream because they would be fully reusable, taking off and landing from a traditional runway.