REL test stand
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Important test for spaceplane concept

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.

Dr Mark Ford is the head of propulsion engineering at the European Space Agency, which was called in by the UK Space Agency to assess REL's technology.

  • 27 Apr 2012