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Wonder what's the thought behind having one type of booster for earth and one for space, since they both seem to be reaction engines.

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From what little we know it seems that the primary engines are air-breathing in that air is taken in much like a jet engine.

We don't see any fuel being used (nor does there seem to be any place for this to be stored) so, presumably, it's an advanced [insert tech-babble] engine.

The basic principle is still that it requires air to be taken in and blown out for thrust. Hence the air intakes on the "front" of the engines.

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There were to be larger air intakes in an earlier version of the Bubblecraft *

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* Source

As for the "secondary" engines for spaceflight, again we don't know the precise mechanism or science but since the upper atmosphere / space has little or no air, a secondary propulsion is required.

Presumably, again in the absence of other information, the "secondary" engines are less powerful in atmosphere but sufficient for upper atmosphere / orbital manoeuvring.

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