A truly reusable spaceplane less than a decade away? "A reusable spaceplane that can take off from a conventional aircraft runway, carry over twelve tonnes to orbit and then return to land on the same runway could be less than a decade away thanks to a one million euro award by the European Space Agency (ESA). The contract awarded to Reaction Engines Limited (REL), is part of a joint public and private multi-million pound development programme, that will demonstrate the core technologies for the SABRE air-breathing rocket engine, which will power the SKYLON spaceplane.
The SABRE is a unique hybrid engine that can "breathe" air when in the atmosphere, like a jet engine, and become a rocket engine when in space. In air-breathing mode air is first cooled by a revolutionary heat exchanger pre-cooler before being compressed and fed to the rocket engine to be burnt with hydrogen fuel. When in rocket mode the hydrogen is burnt with liquid oxygen."
Much More at Physorg