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Skylon spaceplane in orbit
The European Space Agency (ESA) has completed a technical assessment of the Skylon spaceplane and concluded there are no major technical stumbling blocks to continued development of the craft or its engine.
The Skylon, shown in an artist's impression above, is an unpiloted, single-stage-to-orbit (SSTO) spaceplane being developed by the UK Space Agency. The ESA said in a report it can be created "with today's current technology" and, if future engine tests are successful, it will represent "a major breakthrough in propulsion worldwide". The European Space Agency report (PDF) was released by the UK Space Agency on Wednesday.
Oxford-based Reaction Engines, which is signed up to manufacture the spaceplane, said the Skylon will be capable of delivering payloads of satellites and equipment of up to 15 tonnes into low Earth orbit — around 300km above the Earth.
Photo credit: Reaction Engines
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