The space plane will be able to reach speeds of more than 19,000 miles an hour – which would cut the journey time from London to Australia to just four hours.
Reaction Engines hopes to run cargo flights to space stations by 2022 and says the craft – which will take off and land from conventional runways – could later be adapted to take tourists towards the stars.
SKYLON will provide aircraft-like access to space to enable:
Operation from runway to orbit and back
Order of magnitude reduction in cost vs. existing technology
400 x improved reliability
Responsive access to space
ngine tests will continue for three years, with the first test flights scheduled for 2019. He said: “Initially Skylon will be a cargo vehicle, but within a few years it could be carrying people.”
About £10m has been spent designing the craft and £100m more will be spent in the next five years. Each of the 270ft Skylons would cost £700m.