Government to spend £60m on revolutionary Sabre rocket engine that will be used on spaceplane Skylon
Skylon will be capable of reaching Earth's stratosphere in just 15 minutes
The Government will spend £60 million on a revolutionary new rocket engine that can send astronauts into orbit and accelerate aircraft to five times the speed of sound, a minister confirmed.
David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, said the investment in Sabre, a British-designed engine, would provide support at a “crucial stage” to allow a full-scale prototype to be built.
Reaction Engines, the company behind the Sabre project, will seek 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.
“We're investing £60 million in this and we expect them to go out and find private support as well,” Mr Willetts told Radio Five Live.
“But we're backing this because it's technology that has been tested in the lab, it's been assessed by outside experts as right in principle, but now it needs to be built on a full-scale prototype before it can get commercial.
“We think it's right to support it through that crucial stage. That's where too many great British ideas in the past have failed.”
Mr Willetts will speak at the UK Space Conference in Glasgow, which runs until Wednesday, where he is expected to release more details about the investment.
Reaction Engines are now hoping to run flights carrying 15 tonnes of cargo to space stations by 2022.
Spaceplanes can operate as aircrafts within Earth's atmosphere, as well as functioning as a space craft when in space. Only rocket powered aircrafts have so far managed to reach space.
Skylon could be potentially viewed as a competitor to Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic business, in which people can experience six minutes of weightlessness during a sub-orbital spaceflights.
Test flights for the spaceplane are initially being scheduled for 2019. The unpiloted vehicle will be able to reach speeds of more than 19,000 miles an hour, cutting the journey time from London to Australia to approximately four hours.
- 1 2015 General Election: Green party will not appear in TV debate alongside Ukip – says BBC
- 2 Canadian actor punched in face after 'Islamophobia' experiment goes wrong in wake of Ottawa shooting
- 3 Topshop at centre of row over body image as 'shocking' skinny mannequin photo goes viral
- 4 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
- 5 Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
'Nasa Confirms Six Days of Darkness in December': No, they don't - it's a hoax
Canadian actor punched in face after 'Islamophobia' experiment goes wrong in wake of Ottawa shooting
Tim Cook: Apple CEO comes out as gay publicly for the first time 'It's among the greatest gifts God has given me'
Topshop at centre of row over body image as 'shocking' skinny mannequin photo goes viral
Halloween 2014: From the Screaming Man of Pluckley to the 'White Lady' of the Tower of London - Britain's 20 most haunted places
Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God is not 'a magician with a magic wand'
Huge surge in Ukip support after EU funding row, according to new poll
Ukip ‘exploiting grooming scandal’ to secure party’s first police chief
Nigel Farage: 'There’s nothing wrong with white people blacking up'
Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything
Maureen Lipman says 'she can't vote Labour while Ed Miliband is leader'
vary Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - AN OPENING AT A VERY HIGH Q...
£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Nursery Manager Long term Ran...
£24000 - £25000 Per Annum plus company car and commission: Clearwater People S...
£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...