19,000mph ‘spaceplane’ gets Government funding to spark UK space race

Andrew Trotman — Telegraph.co.uk July 16, 2013

David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, will reveal the investment in SABRE, a British-designed engine.

SABRE’s creator, Reaction Engines, wants to use the technology on a unique “spaceplane” called Skylon, which will be capable of taking people to Earth’s stratosphere in just 15 minutes. It could also fly from the UK to Australia in four hours.

Skylon is designed to take off from a standard runway before accelerating to speeds of 19,000 miles per hour.

“SABRE has the potential to completely transform how we access space,” Mr Willets, who hopes the technology will create 21,000 jobs, will say at the UK Space Conference in Glasgow.

“By supporting this breakthrough technology we are giving the UK a leading position in a growing market of new generation launchers and removing one of the main barriers to the growth of commercial activity in space.”

Skylon is likely to be viewed by Sir Richard Branson as a competitior to his Virgin Galactic business. Hundreds of people have so far paid £121,000 each to experience six minutes of weightlessness during one of Sir Richard’s sub-orbital spaceflights. However, unlike Skylon, the billionaire’s spacecraft is launched from a larger plane and not directly from a runway.

The Government will today also award a £134m contract to Astrium to develop instruments for the next generation of weather satellites.

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