As it name suggests, hypersonic vehicles can go much faster — like five times faster — than the speed of sound across low-altitude trajectories. They are propelled by a variety of propellants, from airbreathing supersonic combustion ramjets, or scram jets, to more conventional chemical-fueled engines.
While the debate will continue as to whether the Chinese did launch a hypersonic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead that can evade conventional U.S. missile detection remains to be sorted out, the field of deep tech startups involved in creating military and commercial hypersonic technology is not to be debated. These companies exist and are exploring the hypersonic field through a range of products, including innovative engine technology to metamaterials that would be needed in a device that can withstand the enormous pressures of hypersonic flight.
Many of these firms are not newborn startups, but well-established companies that have used research-and-development acumen to respond to pressing defense and aerospace developments and concerns. Here are a few startups that are building hypersonic vehicles or are developing technology important to the creation of hypersonics:
Hermeus — perhaps the brightest name in the field, the Atlanta, Georgia-based startup Hermeus recently received $60 million in funding from the United States Air Force (USAF) and several venture capital firms. The company goes beyond just defense, though, they also see a market for commercial hypersonic jets.
GoHypersonic Inc. — is a research and development firm that investigates advanced hypersonic propulsion systems and vehicles. Its customers include the Department of Defense and agencies and firms in U.S. aerospace community.
UES, Inc. — This company has been involved in scientific research and technology development for more than 45 years. Not just an r and d form, it has created and successfully commercialized products and services.
Spectral Energies — specializes in hypersonics and gas turbine propulsion and power, but it’s also involved in sensors/diagnostics, aero-optics, plasma physics, wind tunnel research, aero-acoustics and material research.
Ursa Major Technologies, Inc. — says it’s all about liftoff, without the heavy lifting. It develops “launch-ready propulsion for every sector of aerospace, starting with space launch and hypersonics.”
Powdermet Inc. — approaches hypersonics from a materials side. It is involved in nanocomposites for hypersonics — and beyond.
Goodman Technologies — produces disruptive materials for extreme environments — and hypersonic vehicles are subjected to some of the most extreme environments.