The space agencies of Australia and the UK have announced a partnership, which they say will enable passengers to blast off, Star Wars style, to London in just four hours.

The UK Space Agency on Tuesday announced at the UK Space Conference that it would be working with the Australian Space Agency (ASA) on an agreement it is referring to as a “world-first Space Bridge.”


Goodbye torturous 24 hour flight time, hello dreamy hop, skip and a jump across the world!

However, it’s looking like we’re going to have to wait around 10 years.

Patience, you must have.

Yoda, Jedi Master.


How an Earth is this possible?

Karry On - Space Plane

At the core of this agreement is something called the Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine (SABRE), technology which will enable aircraft to fly from Sydney to London in “perhaps as little as four hours,” according to Graham Turnock, head of the UK Space Agency.

Reaction Engines, a business based in Oxfordshire, is working on the hydrogen air-based rocket which could propel a plane at Mach 5.4, then speed up to Mach 25 in space.

For comparison, that’s about twice as fast as the wistfully-remembered Concorde, the supersonic passenger plane which ended service entirely in 2003. Perhaps the Space Place will be operated by British Airways; Concorde 2.0?

According to Reaction Engines, the hydrogen/oxygen engine used in SABRE is both greener and cheaper than current air travel technology.

“Rockets really haven’t progressed in 70 years, whereas aero engines have become very efficient, so if you can combine an aero engine and a rocket you can have a very lightweight efficient propulsion system and basically create a space plane.”

Shaun Driscoll of Reaction Engines

According to the Telegraph, Driscoll says the physics of the SABRE engine “checks out” but that the real problem will be building a proper test regime.


When can we take off?

Karry On - Space Plane


The company hopes it will be able to begin test flights at some point in the next decade, aiming to have commercial flights operating in the 2030s.

In short, we have a long way to go, but people are working hard to make this dream a reality.

In the meantime, of course, fingers crossed Qantas gets Project Sunrise over the line by the end of 2019 which would see Sydney to London direct in 20 hours. You can read more about that here.