Space flight and the average mortal.

I know this may come as a shock to some of my readers, but I often have Opinions. About, you know: Things.

One of these Opinions essentially boils down to: There is an invisible line in the sand for every expenditure a person can make, and when that line has been crossed, spending That Much Money becomes irredeemably silly. You have $96 to buy a leather jacket for your infant? Maybe you should give it to the poor. Planning dinner at a place where the prix-fixe menu runs $500 a pop? Give it to the hungry. And I don’t care how rich I ever get, I will just never be able to spend $1,000 on a pair of shoes.

And having said that.

If the following (via io9) becomes a reality for average mortals before I shuffle off my mortal coil, and I someday have however many tens of thousands of dollars it will probably cost for an average mortal to avail him/herself of it? I will do so. In a heartbeat*.

It’s been a while since we last reported on the British Skylon space plane — a reusable launch vehicle that will be powered by a two-in-one air-breathing rocket engine that can boost the plane to Mach 5.5 and a height of nearly 30 km (18 miles). The latest news is that the theoretic Sabre Engine ain’t so theoretic anymore; it passed a critical heat tolerance and cooling test — what will now pave the way for Skylon to move from concept to reality.

Because of the successful test, Reaction Engines Limited, the British company working on the engine, won an important endorsement from the European Space Agency.

…This really is big news. As Skymania’s Paul Sutherland noted, it’s “the biggest breakthrough in flight technology since the invention of the jet engine.”

The Sabre engine was the crucial piece in the reusable space plane puzzle. Once built and operational, Skylon will take off and land like a conventional plane, but still achieve orbit by mixing air-breathing jets for takeoff, and landing with rockets (fueled by onboard oxygen) once it gets past a certain speed.

…Once fully developed, the Skyplane will travel five times the speed of sound and reach an altitude of nearly 30 km — what is 20% of the speed and altitude required to reach orbit. To make it all the way into space, the plane will switch to rocket mode.

According to Tecca:

The Skylon will, in theory, be able to make a trip to space, drop off something like a satellite, and then return to its port all while being controlled remotely. However, REL has conceptualized a passenger version of the Skylon, so the dream of leaving a spaceport for a quick jaunt amongst the stars is still a possibility. 

What can I say? In.a.heartbeat.

*May also apply to Arctic travel. Jury’s still out.


  1. JHarper2

     /  November 29, 2012

    Boldly Go, Emily!

  2. still waiting for the Mattel hoverboard, though.

  3. Bob Toy

     /  December 4, 2012

    The meek shall inherit the Earth; the rest of us are going to the stars…

    –promotional button for Omni magazine, ca 1980

  4. Martin

     /  January 19, 2013

    the tourist class seat will set you back about $700,000.

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