The Spaceplane Revolution Isn’t Lightyears Away

Aircraft that can fly in our atmosphere and in orbit have been trialled for years, yet rockets are still used as the go-to vehicle to the stars. Bella Richards looks into the future of spaceplanes, and an Australian company that might just make them a commercial reality.

“We would fly to space like you fly with Qantas,” says Michael Smart, one of the pioneering tech entrepreneurs behind the world’s first scramjet-powered, hypersonic spaceplane. Unlike typical rockets that carry satellites to space and are thrown out after one use, Hypersonix Launch Systems’ spaceplane, being built on Australian land, will fly these science investigations to their desired orbit and can be used again and again after that; completely environmentally sustainable, and fully reusable. 

Spaceplanes are not a new concept but have somehow not become the commercial sensation they were once expected to be, and why is that? Some say reusable rocket stages have made spaceplanes redundant, and others say they have never really been economically worth it. But even amid the growing calls for greener space, rockets that leave debris and use toxic propulsion are still being used every day, but it’s not too late. Maybe the success of a sustainable spaceplane will be in the hands of a small Australian company. 

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