Skylon Reaction Engines’ Skylon spacecraft would make short hauls into orbit, come back, and be ready to do it again two days later. Nick Kaloterakis
A disembodied jet engine, attached to a hulking air vent, sits in an outdoor test facility at the Culham Science Center in Oxfordshire, England. When the engine screams to life, columns of steam billow from the vent, giving the impression of an industrial smokestack. Engineer Alan Bond sees something more futuristic. “We’re looking at a revolution in transportation,” he says. For Bond, the engine represents the beginning of the world’s first fully reusable spaceship, a new kind of craft that promises to do what no space-faring vehicle ever has: offer reliable, affordable, and regular round-trip access to low Earth orbit.