Hermeus, a company based in the United States, has unveiled its first prototype hypersonic aircraft. The latter has not yet taken to the air, but it has been fitted with a rocket engine that should enable it to travel at speeds of up to Mach 5. It is also expected to be marketed before the end of this decade as well.
The Quarterhorse, a hypersonic aircraft developed by the American company Hermeus with financial assistance from the United States Air Force, was presented at Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport.
This presentation, which was published on November 9, 2021, unveiled a prototype that is not yet able to take to the air. Despite this, it is equipped with a fully working reactor that has been pushed to its absolute limit of performance.
In terms of looks, the aircraft is twelve meters in length and resembles a drone in appearance. It is, on the other hand, far bigger than Boeing’s X-51 or NASA’s X-43.
In spite of the fact that no flights have yet taken place, Hermeus claims that the Quarterhorse will be able to take off and land from conventional airport runways, in contrast to the other two aircraft mentioned above.
Currently, Hermeus is preparing for additional testing and initial flights, with the goal of validating its turbine-based combined cycle rocket engine (TBCC). This turbofan engine is based on the General Electric J85 turbojet engine, which has been used in a variety of military and private aircraft since 1960.
It is expected that the first test flights will take place in 2024, and that the maximum speeds achieved will be between Mach 3 (3,700 km/h) and Mach 5 (6,175 km/h). Hermeus also reaffirmed its ultimate aim, which it announced during the previous presentation of the prototype: to commercialize this kind of aircraft by 2030, with the ability to carry around twenty passengers at a speed of Mach 5.
There are a number of additional hypersonic aircraft projects underway, in addition to that of Hermeus, Boeing, and NASA. One such example is the SpaceLiner being developed by the German Center for Research in Aeronautics and Astronautics (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt).
Its proportions are similar to those of the original Concorde, which measures 65.6 meters in length. Its goal is to complete the journey from Paris to Melbourne (Australia) in only 1h30, using no less than eleven engines on board.