Asked by Joe Polson
Even the most modern of fighter jets cannot fly into space. The F-35 Lightning II, considered to be the world’s most advanced craft, has a service ceiling of around 15 kilometres (nine miles). This is less than a fifth of the way to space.
Part of the reason fighter jets can’t fly this high is their power source. Jet engines rely on air intake to function properly. Once you get above certain heights the air is too thin for jet engines to work efficiently so they end up shutting down. On top of this, while modern fighter jets have some degree of low pressure provision, the equipment is not enough to deal with the almost zero pressure environment above the Earth’s atmosphere.
Answered by Josh Barker at the National Space Centre
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