London to Sydney in 90 minutes

Summary:Kill distance on a rocket-powered plane from German engineers.

Separation anxiety? The rocket booster separates from passengers in this artist's rendition of the SpaceLiner.

For some people, flying from London to Sydney in four hours just won't be fast enough. So, those of you unimpressed with that tiresome 240-minute ride, maybe this will do: Germany's space agency will get you there in 90 minutes.

According to Scientific American, the 50-passenger SpaceLiner would make the UK-to-Australia route commutable "by riding a rocket into Earth's atmosphere, reaching 24 times the speed of sound before gliding in for a landing."

The concept at the German Aerospace Center also calls to stop just short of space by hitting an altitude of 50 miles, to use separate orbiter propulsion after the rocket booster launch, and to glide back to earth at 15,000 miles per hour. The magazine writes,

"Many challenges still remain, including finding the right shape for the vehicle, said Martin Sippel, project coordinator for SpaceLiner at the German Aerospace Center. But he suggested the project could make enough progress to begin attracting private funding in another 10 years and aim for full operations by 2050."

So if you've already booked your ticket on the four-hour supersonic cruiser planned by Boeing, NASA and others, maybe you should ask for a refund.

Image: German Aerospace Center.

If you have to settle for something slower:

More distance defying, on SmartPlanet:

By the time this plane is ready for boarding in 2050, you might want to stay off it if the passengers have a communicable bacterial disease:

This post was originally published on

Topics: Innovation


Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter.

Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.