The next big leap in space travel will use hypersonic planes

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Scramjets capable of flying at Mach 15 will make it easier and cheaper to send spacecraft and people into orbit, says hypersonics expert Michael Smart.

Sending satellites, spacecraft and humans into space is an expensive business. If humanity wants to venture further across the Solar System, we need ways of reducing the cost. Perhaps the easiest way to do this is to make the vehicles we use to launch missions into space reusable.

Michael Smart, chair of hypersonic propulsion at the University of Queensland, believes hypersonic planes are the solution. He spent 10 years designing hypersonic engines called scramjets for Nasa before establishing his own research group, which now works with the Australian Department of Defence, Science and Technology and the US Air Force.

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