Australian and US scientists have successfully tested hypersonic aircraft technology which could revolutionise international flight.
The Australian reports that the trial was the first of up to 10 tests to be conducted at the Woomera desert range as part of a joint US-Australian military research operation.
The programme, called Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation, is investigating hypersonics technology and its potential for next generation aeronautics.
Hypersonics is the study of flight exceeding approximately five times the speed of sound, and this trial has successfully tested the flight and mission control systems that will be used in future experiments.
The test vehicle was carried into space aboard a rocket launched from Woomera and then dived back into the atmosphere to test the hypersonic flight technology.
Nitrogen gas valves were used as thrusters to manoeuvre the craft in space and correctly position it for reentry into the atmosphere, offering scientists a wealth of new data.
During trials of similar technology in 2007, the defence department said travelling time from Sydney to London could be cut to as little as two hours for the 17,000-kilometre flight.