Hypersonic passenger jet company begins engine development


Atlanta, USA-based startup Hermeus Corporation is to start developing and testing a hypersonic passenger jet after raising sufficient funding from investors.

Hermeus aims to develop an aircraft capable of flight in excess of Mach 5 – more than 3,000mph. At Mach 5, for example, flight times from New York to London would be reduced from 7 hours to 90 minutes.

The company, which was founded in 2018, is to use initial funding raised this year to develop and test the aircraft’s hypersonic propulsion system.

AJ Piplica, Co-founder and CEO of Hermeus said, “We’ve set out on a journey to revolutionize the global transportation infrastructure, bringing it from the equivalent of dial-up into the broadband era, by radically increasing the speed of travel over long distances. We’re excited to work with Khosla Ventures to turn this vision into reality.”

The four Hermeus founders consist of former members of staff from SpaceX and Blue Origin. Additionally, they all worked together at Generation Orbit, where AJ Piplica served as CEO and Glenn Case, Mike Smayda, and Skyler Shuford served as technical directors. While there, they led the development of the X-60A, a hypersonic rocket-plane and the Air Force’s newest X-Plane.

Hermeus has also appointed a board of advisors to help define its strategy with respect to safety, markets, technology, and development. Board members include: Rob Meyerson – former president of Blue Origin; Rob Weiss – former executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Skunk Works; Dr. George Nield – former associate administrator, FAA, and Mitch Free – former director of technical operations, Northwest Airlines

Rob Meyerson said, “With experience from the best of the NewSpace companies, the Hermeus team is well positioned to disrupt the hypersonics industry.”

“I think we have a first-class team – Hermeus and advisors,” said Rob Weiss. “It seems to me if there’s a team that can achieve this big goal, it’s Hermeus.”

The funding round for Hermeus was led by investment firm Khosla Ventures, with additional participation from private investors.

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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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