Air Force-backed startup Hermeus unveils Quarterhorse hypersonic aircraft during a ceremony at an Atlanta airport.
As we have reported earlier that Hermeus gets a $60-million contract from USAF to build Quarterhorse reusable hypersonic aircraft.
To the surprise of the crowd, the company didn’t just unveil an aircraft prototype, but delivered an experience atypical of aerospace unveils by firing the aircraft’s engine at maximum afterburner throttle.
Here is the video:
The unveiling of the non-flying Quarterhorse prototype marks the latest step in the Georgia company’s effort to make reusable hypersonic aircraft and eventually jetliners that can fly passengers at five times the speed of sound.
“Hypersonics needs a unifying vision,” Hermeus CEO A.J. Piplica said at the prototype unveiling. “That vision should be accelerating the global human transportation network.”
The prototype unveiled at last week’s private ceremony is being used for ground-based hardware development and integration; it is not designed to fly, the company said in a statement.
“Building this vehicle was an exercise in multidisciplinary design, manufacturing, and the integration of complete systems,” the company said
The single-engine Quarterhorse will flight test and validate the company’s turbine-based combined cycle (TBCC). If successful by the end of the flight test campaign it will be the world’s fastest reusable aircraft, capable of achieving speeds of between Mach 3 and Mach 5.
The unmanned testbed is 40ft (12m) in length, larger than previous hypersonic demonstrators the X-43 and X-51. It will land and take-off on conventional runways.
The TBCC engine is an air-breathing rocket for hypersonic air transport and travel developed from a GE J85 jet engine core. The engine has been undergoing ground testing at Hermeus’ Site 27 test site at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport, Atlanta.
Hermeus is developing three aircraft. As well as Quarterhorse it aims to develop a Mach 5-capable (more than 3,000mph) a 20-seat passenger aircraft by the end of this decade, which will use the TBCC engine.
The company plans to fly a Mach 5 aircraft for that program for the first time in 2024.