Hermeus, a startup based in Atlanta, Georgia, has received $ 60 million in funding from the United States Air Force (USAF) and various venture capital firms. The company wants to develop the world’s first reusable hypersonic aircraft capable of flying at 3,000 mph. Hypersonic flight refers to a flight area where a vehicle is traveling at a speed of Mach 5 or higher, which is five times faster than the speed of sound.
According to aviation enthusiasts website FlightGlobal, the investment has been made to help develop and test-fly an unscrewed hypersonic aircraft capable of flying from New York to Paris in 90 minutes. While the portion of the money that the USAF has invested was not disclosed, we do know that it comes from the Executive and Presidential Air Transport Directorate of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center and Air Force Research Laboratory ( AFRL).
USAF IS INTERESTED IN TECHNOLOGY
While a $ 60 million investment in such a great project may not seem like a lot, it could help develop innovative technology that can be used in other applications, so the USAF was willing to invest. Speaking about investing with politics, business and technology from the defense website DefenseNews.com on August 5, 2021, Presidential and Executive Air Transport Executive Officer Gen. Jason Lindsey said:
“Ultimately, we want to have options within the commercial aircraft market for platforms that can be modified to support Air Force missions, such as high-level transportation, as well as mobility, [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance] and possibly others. mission sets “.
The contract awarded to Hermeus on July 30, 2021 has a duration of three years and sets out several goals that the USAF would like the firm to meet.
The construction of three aircraft prototypes
Testing a reusable hypersonic propulsion system
Data for the Air Force that you can use in future wargaming efforts
THE PROTOTYPE IS CALLED QUARTERHORSE
On Twitter, Hermeus COO Skyler Shuford said the “Quarterhorse” prototype aircraft would be flown unmanned to eliminate the risk. According to Hermeus, Quarterhorse will validate the company’s proprietary turbine-based combined cycle (TBCC) engine. At the end of the flight test campaign, Quarterhorse will be the world’s fastest reusable aircraft and the first of its kind to fly a TBCC engine that Hermeus is developing based on the GE J85 turbojet engine.
“OUR FIRST QUARTERHORSE AIRCRAFT WILL NOT BE PILOTED, IT IS THE 21ST CENTURY, WE SHOULD NOT RISK LIVES ON EXPERIMENTAL AIRCRAFT @SKYSHUFORD”.
– HERMEO (@HERMEUSCORP) AUGUST 5, 2021
Last August, Simple Flying reported that Hermeus had already built and tested a subscale hypersonic engine prototype and was now working on the development of a full-scale engine demonstrator. Speaking about the USAF investment in the Hermeus Air Force Research Laboratory commander, Maj. Gen. Heather Pringle said:
“When it comes to technology, we often hear the term ‘game changer’, yet hypersonic airplanes and propulsion systems are truly game-changing and will revolutionize the way we travel, just like automobiles did in the 20th century. We are excited to be a part of this effort and to help advance this important technology. ”
The obvious thing about the USAF investment in the project is that in addition to how hypersonic flight will revolutionize commercial aviation, it will also have many military applications and is already being used to develop cruise missiles.
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THE X-15 FLYED TO MACH 6
It seems a bit strange that it took us so long to master hypersonic flight, given that Air Force Major Robert White flew the X-15 research plane at speeds in excess of Mach 6 in 1961. The Big Three Challenges Hermeus engineers face are:
Heat: Hypersonic flight creates an enormous amount of heat that must be handled with light shields and thermally shielded instruments.
Maneuverability: At hypersonic speeds, maneuverability requires extensive calculation and development
Communication: Basic operations, such as communications, become challenging when traveling at hypersonic speeds
If Hermeus engineers can overcome these challenges, commercial hypersonic flight could become a reality.
What do you think of Hermeo and his project? Please tell us your thoughts about him in the comments.