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"The germinal societies like Singapore and communist Hong Kong may give us a mutant capitalism that is both virulent and efficient. This is a significant cultural danger."
- Gregory Benford

Spaceplane (Clarke-class)  
  An inexpensively powered flight to low earth orbit.  

Building One's doors slid open ponderously when Prince Harry pressed the button on the pedestal, somewhat predictably a band struck up the 'Zarathustra' theme, and the Clarke-class spaceplane emerged into the afternoon sunlight, escorted by a troupe of engineers in spotless white overalls. It had a swept delta planform with a fifty-metre span, sixty metres long; the metalloceramic hull was an all-over frost-white, except for the scarlet Dragonflight escutcheons on the fin. Three streamlined cylindrical nacelles blended seamlessly with the underbelly, air-scoop ramps closed; reaction-control thruster clusters on the nose and around the wedge-shaped clamshell doors at the rear were masked by protective covers, remove before flight tags dangling.

Julia clapped along with everyone else, impressed despite herself. The spaceplane was giga-conductor powered, the first of its kind, capable of lifting fifty tonnes into orbit without burning a single hydrocarbon molecule to injure the diseased atmosphere any further.

Technovelgy from A Quantum Murder, by Peter F. Hamilton.
Published by Tor in 1998
Additional resources -

It was efficient in terms of the cost of space flight:

"As it says quite clearly in your information kit, operating costs for the Clarke-class spaceplane work out a four hundred pounds New Sterling per ton lifted into low Earth orbit."

Compare to the shuttle from Stars are Styx (1950) by Theodore Sturgeon, the shuttle ship and Winged Rocket Shuttle from Heinlein's 1951 novel Between Planets and JAL shuttle from Gibson's 1984 novel Neuromancer.

Thanks to Fred Kiesche for pointing this out.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from A Quantum Murder
  More Ideas and Technology by Peter F. Hamilton
  Tech news articles related to A Quantum Murder
  Tech news articles related to works by Peter F. Hamilton

Spaceplane (Clarke-class)-related news articles:
  - Could Increased Space Rocketry Damage The Ozone Layer?

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