Atlanta-based startup Hermeus has recently unveiled its first flight vehicle, marking a significant stride toward the realization of a groundbreaking hypersonic aircraft. The company aims to revolutionize air travel with aircraft capable of flying at speeds exceeding Mach 5, or approximately 3,836 miles per hour, without relying on rocket engines. Unlike previous hypersonic vehicles that required deployment from larger aircraft, Hermeus is pioneering a new approach by developing jet-powered planes capable of taking off from conventional runways, thereby expanding their potential applications.

The innovative endeavor by Hermeus involves the construction of two distinct hypersonic aircraft. The first, known as Darkhorse, will serve as an uncrewed, reusable drone tailored for military applications. The second aircraft, named Halcyon, holds promise as a commercial passenger plane, potentially slashing the travel time between major destinations such as New York and London to a mere 90 minutes.

Hermeus recently achieved a significant milestone by completing testing on Quarterhorse Mk 0, a ground-based prototype engineered to demonstrate remote command functionalities and controlled taxiing. Building upon this success, the company has now revealed Quarterhorse Mk 1, the first aircraft slated for actual flight operations. Mk 1, an uncrewed, remotely piloted aircraft, will undergo rigorous testing to validate its high-speed takeoff and landing capabilities.

Don Kaderbek, Vice President of Test at Hermeus, emphasized the comprehensive evaluation planned for Mk 1’s performance during its testing phase. This evaluation will also assess the efficacy of test procedures, safety protocols, and interdisciplinary team collaboration integral to the project’s success.

In addition to unveiling Mk 1, Hermeus announced plans for Mk 2, which will feature an F100 engine developed by aerospace giant Pratt & Whitney. Mk 2 is anticipated to achieve supersonic flight in 2025, showcasing the versatility and reliability of the F100 engine in powering cutting-edge aviation technologies. Josh Goodman, Senior Director of the F100 program at Pratt & Whitney, expressed excitement about witnessing the F100 engine propel a new generation of aircraft into the realm of supersonic travel, marking a significant milestone in aviation history.

By Impact Lab