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.
"We intend to go to the Farnborough International Air Show in July with a clear message," explained REL managing director Alan Bond.
"The message is that Britain has the next step beyond the jet engine; that we can reduce the world to four hours - the maximum time it would take to go anywhere. And that it also gives us aircraft that can go into space, replacing all the expendable rockets we use today."
Sabre is part jet engine, part rocket engine. It burns hydrogen and oxygen to provide thrust - but in the lower atmosphere this oxygen is taken from the atmosphere.
The approach should save weight and allow Skylon to go straight to orbit without the need for the multiple propellant stages seen in today’s throw-away rockets.
Glad to see us Brits are still engineering awesome, new things, I really hope they aren’t let down by lack of investors. If I had that £250m, I would be throwing it at them. The future is promising.#sabre #engine #spaceflight #space #UK #technology #science