Re: "I'll put my money on a Skylon."
Out of curiosity (and I know I'm going to regret asking), where and how in the seven shades of hell did you come up with "8 inches of copper"? Do you have any idea what one square foot of copper, eight inches thick, would weigh? That's just about 373 pounds, or near enough 170 kilos. Can you point me at anyone lifting this kind of mass out of Earth's gravity well just for shielding?