Space: The next frontier

Commander’s Update Briefing

In summer 2019, the Ministry of Defence outlined an ambitious space programme, including committing £30m to fast-track the launch of a small satellite demonstrator within a year. It’s just one indication of the growing importance of space to modern air forces, as Air Power Association President, Air Marshal (ret’d) Greg Bagwell CB CBE explains.

An artist’s impression of a future satellite-launching spaceplane powered by Reaction Engines’ SABRE – Synergetic Air Breathing Rocket Engine. Capable of propelling both high-speed aircraft and spacecraft, SABRE engines combine the fuel eficiency of a jet engine with the power and high-speed ability of a rocket. They are capable of Mach 5.4 in air-breathing mode, and Mach 25 in rocket mode for space flight. Reaction Engines
Below: The USAF’s X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle Mission 5 successfully lands at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility on October 27, 2019. The secretive X-37B OTV is an experimental test programme to demonstrate technologies for a reliable, reusable, unmanned space test platform for the USAF. The fifth mission had launched on September 7, 2017, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on board a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster. USAF

The US Air Force’s secretive X-37B spaceplane lands at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida, after spending a recordbreaking 26 months in orbit. The Orbital Test Vehicle, a reusable and unmanned spacecraft, has just completed its fifth mission. You might be forgiven for thinking the statement above is set in the future, but this actually happened last October.

Become a Premium Member to Read More

This is a premium article and requires an active Key.Aero subscription to view.

I’m an existing member, sign me in!

I don’t have a subscription…

Enjoy the following subscriber only benefits:

  • Unlimited access to all KeyAero content
  • Exclusive in-depth articles and analysis, videos, quizzes added daily
  • A fully searchable archive – boasting hundreds of thousands of pieces of quality aviation content
  • Access to read all our leading aviation magazines online - meaning you can enjoy the likes of FlyPast, Aeroplane Monthly, AirForces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, Aviation News, Airports of the World, PC Pilot and Airliner World - as soon as they leave the editor’s desk.
  • Access on any device- anywhere, anytime
  • Choose from our offers below