Bristol Spaceplanes

Leading the way to everyday spaceflight

Lowering the barriers to space travel

Bristol Spaceplanes is in the lead promoting a straightforward way of slashing the cost of access to space.   This is to build an airliner that can fly to orbit, to replace today’s missile-like launchers that can fly only once.   With our approach, within 15 years many of you could afford a visit to a space hotel.   The main obstacle is the power of traditional thinking.   So you can help dent the mindset by asking questions and, when you are satisfied with our answers, spreading the message to friends and colleagues.

In More Detail

Space travel today is very expensive–it costs a few tens of millions of pounds to send up an astronaut.   This is because all launch vehicles to date have used large throwaway components based on ballistic missile technology.   Imagine how much motoring would cost if cars were scrapped after each journey!

It is clear that an airliner that could fly to orbit would transform this situation.   It could provide an airline service to orbit and open up large new markets, especially tourist visits to space hotels.   What is less well known is that in the 1960s most big aircraft companies in Europe and the USA studied spaceplanes in depth.   There was a consensus that spaceplanes were the obvious next step and that they were just about feasible with the technology of the day.

They were not developed then because of Cold War pressures, and the design teams were allowed to disband.   Today, this knowledge has been largely forgotten and spaceplanes are not on the agendas of space agencies.   The main obstacle now is the power of traditional thinking.

The founder of Bristol Spaceplanes is one of the few involved in the 1960s spaceplane studies who is still active in the field.   As a result, we have been able to work up a highly competitive strategy for spaceplane development that leads to large new markets at low technical risk and with a very good return on investment.

This involves a step-by-step development sequence of spaceplanes, starting with a small suborbital one, Ascender, and working up to a large orbital one, Spacebus.   Each design would help to dent the mindset, improve the technology, and gain the credibility needed to find the funding for the next one on the sequence.   As soon as space agencies, satellite operators, and tourism companies take our proposals seriously, they are likely to happen because the case is so strong.

Ours is the only coherent plan on offer for slashing the cost of access to space!  You can help by taking an interest.

Check our designs out below:


Ascender is a small sub-orbital spaceplane designed to use existing technology and to pave the way for later vehicles on our development sequence.

Find out more


Spacecab is a fully reusable spaceplane designed to use only existing technology. It is in effect an enlarged and refined Ascender.

Find out more


Spacebus, BSP’s second generation orbital spaceplane, is a larger version of Spacecab, itself an evolution of Ascender.

Find out more

Would you like a few days in a space hotel?  

Incredible as it may seem, the main obstacle to your spaceflight is no more than, and no less than, the power of traditional thinking in the big space agencies.
To help break this mould of thinking, follow our blog and join our campaign when we launch it!

Check out our blog

More News

There is a straightforward way of slashing the cost of access to space.   This was widely studied some decades ago but never implemented because of the politics of the NASA budget.   Bristol Spaceplanes Limited is now the only company promoting it, probably because the founder is one of the few involved in the 1960s studies who is still active in the field.

Read about this and more in our latest posts:

4 Facts About Space Travel You Never Knew

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What would it be like to go into space on the Ascender?

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What would it actually be like to go into space on the Ascender? Wonder no more, as we’ve described the Ascender flight experience below… Travel to the airport To take your flight, you’ll need to…

UK Government Publishes Spaceplane Report

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The Civil Aviation Authority has published a report, ‘UK Government review of commercial spaceplane certification and operations’, which has very positive conclusions. Eight specific spaceplane projects are described, including the Bristol Spaceplanes Ascender – see…

A trip into space (via the Bristol Spaceplanes archives)

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How Bristol Spaceplanes can disrupt spaceflight and how our Ascender spaceplane will open up space tourism so that it’s within reach of many more people