Key tests for Skylon spaceplane project
(April 27, 2012) UK engineers have begun critical tests on a new engine technology designed to lift a spaceplane into orbit.
The proposed Skylon vehicle would operate like an airliner, taking off and landing at a conventional runway.
Its major innovation is the Sabre engine, which can breathe air like a jet at lower speeds but switch to a rocket mode in the high atmosphere.
Reaction Engines Limited (REL) believes the test campaign will prove the readiness of Sabre's key elements.
This being so, the firm would then approach investors to raise the £250m needed to take the project into the final design phase.
"We intend to go to the Farnborough International Air Show in July with a clear message," explained REL managing director Alan Bond.
"The message is that Britain has the next step beyond the jet engine; that we can reduce the world to four hours - the maximum time it would take to go anywhere. And that it also gives us aircraft that can go into space, replacing all the expendable rockets we use today."