Skylon: The UK’s Space Plane

The allure of the space plane has always been the cost saving associated with the fact that every major component can be reused. The rocket fuselage, its engines the crew accommodations, all of the electronics, hydraulics, avionics, virtually everything is preserved.

The United States’ space shuttle was the only operational space plane to date, although the Buran of the former Soviet Union did make one unmanned flight.

Great Britain’s effort was centered on a program known as the Horizontal Take-Off and Landing (HOTOL) design. The program began in 1982 and was cancelled in 1988 when a lack of progress on technical issues discouraged the British government from providing further funding.

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