Flight times from London to Sydney could be cut to just four hours by the 2030s with the advent of hypersonic engines.
Graham Turnock, the head of the UK Space Agency, said work carried out by Reaction Engines on the pioneering Synergetic Air Breathing Rocket Engine (Sabre) engine would drastically reduce flight times.
Travelling from London to New York using the system could one day take as little as one hour.
Mr Turnock said: “When we have brought the Sabre rocket engine to fruition, that may enable us to get to Australia in perhaps as little as four hours.”
Aircraft fitted with hypersonic technology would be able to travel at twice the speed of Concorde – the equivalent of five times the speed of sound.
The Sabre engine would help prevent engines overheating while travelling at Mach 5.4 speeds, using tubes of supercooled helium.
Read more from Yahoo News UK:
Reaction Engines’ Shaun Driscoll told Stuff: “The main thing with Sabre is it’s like a hybrid of a rocket engine and an aero engine, so it allows a rocket to breathe air.
“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.
“The physics checks out but the challenge is building a test regime.”
Trials of the engine are taking place in Denver, Colorado, while test flights are set to be launched by the mid-2020s.