The Australia-based startup Hypersonix Launch Systems signed a research agreement with Boeing to explore the development of a sustainable hypersonic vehicle powered by the Hypersonix SPARTAN scramjet engines, which use hydrogen as fuel.
The vehicle should be used as a reusable launcher for satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The low-cost, reliable, reusable, and rapid turn-around launch of small satellites to LEO would be the first application of scramjets for space launch.
“Our Hypersonic space launch system provides satellite network operators a green and sustainable way of launching satellites to low earth orbit,” Dr. Michael Smart, Head of R&D and Co-Founder of Hypersonix said. The SPARTAN scramjet (supersonic compression ramjet) engine is an air-breathing engine powered by hydrogen. It is capable of generating thrust to reach speeds ranging from Mach 5 to Mach 12, according to its designer. In 2020, Hypersonix received an Accelerating Commercialisation Grant from the Australian Federal Department of Industry.
“Boeing’s long history with sophisticated high-speed airframe design and hypersonic flight makes them an ideal partner for Hypersonix,” Smart said. Throughout the years, Boeing has been involved in multiple hypersonic vehicle experiments and projects, such as the X-15, Space Shuttle, X-43A, X-51A, X-37, and HIFiRE-4. As such, the company acquired knowledge on scramjet propulsion and high-temperature materials.