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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

Big Test Looms for British Space Plane Concept

• Space
A huge, unmanned British space plane is on pace to start launching payloads into Earth orbit in less than a decade — provided it can pass a crucial engine test in June, its designers say.

The Skylon space plane — which would take off and land horizontally, like a commercial jet — is still a concept vehicle for now, but it recently passed several rigorous independent design reviews, the British company Reaction Engines Ltd, which is developing the spacecraft, announced Tuesday (April 12).

Private funding is lined up to see it through all stages of development, culminating with the start of commercial operations in 2020. That funding, however, is contingent on Skylon hitting some key milestones along the way, and a big one looms just a few months off.


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