The £60m Skylon plane can fly from London to Sydney in 4 hours.
The UK government has splashed £60m into a next-generation engine that will make low-cost air travel possible for commercial customers.
The new ‘Sabre’ engine is a hybrid rocket and jet propulsion system which theoretically allows travel anywhere on Earth in four hours or less, the passengers will have to wait for at least a decade to travel by the Skylon plane. However a full ground-based engine test is planned for 2020.
A company called Reaction Engines, which is based at Culham Science Centre in Oxfordshire, has been given a £60m grant by the government to help it develop and build the Skylon super-plane. The cash will also be used to help change the company from being mainly research-based to testing and eventual commercial applications.
Aerospace giant BAE is snapping up 20 per cent of the company for £20.6m. BAE and Reaction will form a “working partnership to progress towards the demonstration of a ground based engine”.
The super-plane will rely on cooling an incoming airstream from 1,000 degrees C to minus 150 C almost instantly, at close to 1/100th of a second. It will double the technical limits of a jet engine, and allow the craft to reach, up to five times the speed of sound, before switching to a rocket engine to reach orbit.