Commercial Hypersonic Aviation
Human-rated high-performance aerospace vehicles tend to follow a development path that starts with defense applications and transitions to civil applications as technology matures and becomes commonplace. The Mercury 7, carrying America’s first astronauts, rode to space atop modified ICBMs in the 1960s. The large dedicated resources in both funding and brain power for the Apollo program created the complex systems which landed humans on the moon. The last decade has seen a reversal of the decline in U.S. aerospace workforce, per The Space Foundations 2021 Executive Summary Space Report. The increasing aerospace workforce is meeting the demand for highly technical skill sets in urban air mobility, launch, new space economy, and high-speed flight.
Thanks to preceding reusable uncrewed hypersonic X-plane flight tests, by the early 2030s hypersonic technology will have overcome challenges in materials, heat soak, and propulsion to enable the first dual-use reusable hypersonic passenger aircraft.
To learn more about the physics of hypersonic flight, the engineering challenges, and the promising technologies we are tracking at Prime Movers Lab, check out the following blog post, High-Speed Flight: Hypersonics Is So Hot Right Now.