Hermeus, a hypersonic aviation startup, added flair to the unveiling of its first prototype design, the Quarterhorse, by starting its engine and setting it to full throttle. Throughout the demonstration, the reusable unmanned aircraft stayed stationary on the ground, but the company wants to achieve the first flight next year.
Engineers have shown a full-scale concept mockup of the Quarterhorse, which might be constructed to serve as Air Force One in the future. The prototype was unveiled at an unknown location in front of corporate officials, investors, and United States Air Force members. Here’s a little sneak-peek of the occasion:
Hermeus was formed in 2018 with the sole purpose of bringing hypersonic aircraft to commercial flight operations. Hypersonic planes, which move at 3,000 miles per hour (4,828 kph), might cut the time it takes to go from New York to London from seven hours to 90 minutes. The aircraft can travel at five times the speed of conventional aircraft, but the Hermeus aims to do more than just carry passengers faster; it also wants to contribute to the world economy. According to its estimations, the hypersonic flight will add $4 trillion to each year’s global economy.
The company announced in August that it had acquired $60 million in funding for the Quarterhorse flight test program from the US Air Force and private capital groups. The US Air Force has put money towards Hermeus as part of a more significant effort to find future hypersonic and supersonic transport aircraft designs. However, the designs in the process could have other applications as well.
“When an aerospace company typically unveils a new aircraft, it’s nothing more than Styrofoam and fiberglass,” Skyler Shuford, Hermeus’ COO, said at the event. “But at Hermeus, we drive to integrated products. And we really, really like to make fire.”
“We designed, manufactured, and integrated the aircraft, from nothing but an outer shape, in four months,” he added.
Hermeus is working on a turbine-based combined cycle (TBCC) engine modeled after the GE J85 turbojet. Hypersonic missiles employ a similar model, but Hermeus wants to develop the world’s fastest reusable aircraft. The Air Force’s involvement also indicates that Hermeus’ technology could be used to build military aircraft.
Hermeus intends to develop the new aircraft with an “iterative, hardware-rich” approach. According to the company, the first operational Quarterhorse prototype might begin flying tests as early as next year.