British Rail designed its own flying saucer for interplanetary travel

When you hear the company name British Rail your mind immediately jumps to trains or sky-high ticket prices, but what may surprise you is that in the 1970s the company patented a flying saucer design. The spacecraft, known as the “space vehicle”, was designed by Charles Osmond Frederick, an engineer at the British Railway Technical Center in Derby.

The spacecraft proposal started out as a lifting platform, but after some revisions and modifications, it became a large passenger craft for interplanetary travel. The spacecraft was to be powered by nuclear fusion using laser beams to produce pulses of nuclear energy in a generator located in the center of the craft.

The patent document reads: “The present invention relates to a space vehicle. It relates more particularly to a power supply for a space vehicle which provides a source of sustained thrust for very low fuel mass loss. Thus, it would allow very high speeds to be achieved in a space vehicle and, in fact, the prolonged acceleration of the vehicle can, under certain circumstances, be used to simulate gravity.”

Design of Charles Osmond Frederick’s “space vehicle”

The patent application was filed on December 11, 1970 in the name of British Rail and on March 21, 1973 patent number 1,310,990 was granted. Obviously, the space vehicle never materialized, which is a shame for all space enthusiasts, and in 1976 the patent expired due to non-payment of renewal fees.

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