Trials about to start on a small engine stand in rural Oxfordshire, England, could open the door to full-scale development of a hybrid air-breathing rocket engine for single-stage-to-orbit (SSTO) reusable launch vehicles. The tests mark a major milestone for Reaction Engines, a research company originally established 19 years ago to design and develop a reusable spaceplane concept called Skylon. The project, like the founders of Reaction Engines, is rooted in Hotol (horizontal takeoff and ...

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