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Researchers working on aircraft that would send tourists out into space faster than the speed of sound.

The ultimate adventure ride could be coming soon to an airport near you.  It's called "Skylon" and the special aircraft is being developed for commercial use to carry tourists out into space within the next ten years. 

Skylon would take off from a standard airport runway and travel at more than five times the speed of sound, according to the
 Telegraph and Daily Mail. The revolutionary aircraft was developed by Reaction Engines, with support from the new UK space agency. 

The 270 foot-long spaceplane is unpiloted, has no external rockets, and has two engines that use hydrogen and oxygen to propel it more than 18 miles out of the Earth's atmosphere.  

The propulsion and attitude control are provided using computer systems while in orbit.  The engine uses the propulsion to reach the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere before switching to rocket power.

The aircraft – which can can remain operational in orbit for up to seven days – would take off from an airport, fly out into orbit, and then land on the runway. The craft is expected to carry up to 24 passengers into space at a time, revolutionize space travel, and cut costs. 

The reusable spaceplane is intended to provide inexpensive and reliable access to space within a decade.  

"Access to space is extraordinarily expensive, yet there’s no law of physics that says it has to be that way," said Technical Director and one of the founders of Reaction Engines, Richard Varvill. "We just need to prove it’s viable. The simple truth is that the Earth is part of a much bigger system."

In the future, Skylon could be used in place of NASA's Space Shuttle to transport astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station.

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By Bubbacub on 9/20/2010 8:24:01 AM , Rating: 2
Alan Bond has been working on this in one guise or another for 30 years (see cancelled hotol project).

he has (essentially) no UK governmoent funding. He got a tiny grant from the EU a couple of years ago. the only piece of demonstrable technology that could be made is the pre-cooling system to liquify air prior to going to the rocket engine.

the only non 'pie in the sky' part of skylon is the engine. the rest is all made up bumpf. just read their explanation for the TPS system on the website. they plan on using a layer of foil/ceramic around a milimetre in thickness as their main TPS system! then look at the shape of the plane - it doesn't take a genius to see that it is going to get very hot very quickly as compared to the usual blunt shaped re-entry vehicle.

having said all this the SABRE engine is an incredibly cool idea and is one that could be made to work to get a SSTO reusable spacecraft.

unfortunately nobody is willing to pay for it.

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