Skylon spacecraft uses internal engines and rocket fuel
by Mark R
This is the Skylon, and I fully realize that sounds like a Cylon from Battlestar Gallactica. I’m sure that you are looking at this spacecraft and thinking it is something out of science fiction.
However, this is just one of several vehicles that I have seen designed for the apparent boom in space tourist industry, which is set to come about at some particular date in the future, I would imagine. I think NASA is working on one that launches from a rail, then there is the XCOR Aerospace Lynx, and whatever Sir Richard Branson is working on now.
The Skylon is designed by British scientists so it “will travel at five times the speed of sound using two internal engines that suck hydrogen and oxygen from the atmosphere to send it 18 miles above the ground – and out of Earth’s atmosphere”. As soon as it reaches the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere, it cuts into rocket power.
I can only assume that the purpose of creating a craft that could do this is so there isn’t any damage to the environment from rocket fuel. Yes, there is some environmental harm done with the space shuttle, but not as much as the damage we do with all our automobiles daily.