Long-haul flights are set to become a thing of the past, thanks to a massive A$130 million investment into a next generation jet propulsion engine by the UK government.

The new technology, which will effectively double the technical limits of a jet engine and allow aircraft to reach speeds up to five times the speed of sound before finally reaching orbit, will make it possible to travel from Sydney to London – or just about anywhere on the planet – in four hours or less.

But don’t get too excited just yet. The Skylon super-plane, made by Oxfordshire-based company Reaction Engine, won’t be whisking passengers around the world for at least a decade, with a full ground-based engine test planned not until 2020.

That’s more than enough time to start planning your holidays!

According to Nigel Whitehead, managing director of aerospace giant BAE (who just bought 20 percent of the company), exciting times await:

“The potential for this engine is incredible. I feel like we’re in the same position as the people who were the first to consider putting a propeller on an internal combustion engine: we understand that there are amazing possibilities but don’t fully understand what they are, as we just can’t imagine them all. It could be very high speed flight, low-cost launches to orbit or other fantastic achievements.”

Nigel Whitehead, managing director of BAE

So how does it work?

It’s a little complicated (as are most things aeronautical), but high speeds are acheived by cooling an incoming airstream from 1,000 degrees C to minus 150 degrees C at a 1/100th of a second, resulting in faster acceleration.

In the meantime, passengers can look forward to direct flights between Australia and Europe with Qantas, which are stated to begin in 2017.

How will this new technology change the way you travel? Share your thoughts below.