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Hypersonix to partner with Rocket Lab for hypersonic test vehicle launch

The Hypersonix team at Rocket Lab USA’s HQ in Long beach: From left David Waterhouse, CEO Hypersonix USA, Inc; Nina Patz, Head of Marketing & Business Development Hypersonix and Michael Smart, CTO & Head of R&D Hypersonix USA, Inc. Image: Hypersonix

Hypersonix USA Inc is partnering with established launch provider Rocket Lab USA, Inc for the first launch of the DART AE hypersonic flight vehicle.

The Defense Innovation Unit’s (DIU’s) hypersonic and high-cadence testing capabilities (HyCAT) project and its mission partners are prototyping a suite of modern, low-cost, high-cadence, dual-use airborne testing vehicles that provide data that accelerates the evaluation of potential systems, concepts, technologies, and mission sets.

Queensland-based Hypersonix was selected to provide a vehicle solution for the HyCAT project. The DART AE’s scramjet engine requires a boost to Mach 5 in order to self-ignite. Once flying at this speed, the oxygen-breathing and hydrogen-fuelled engine, manufactured out of high temperature alloys, is capable of accelerating to speeds of up to Mach 7.

Rocket Lab has built a strong track record of reliable launches and a reputation for its ability to work rapidly to meet the needs of Customers.

“We have looked at various launch providers globally, as DART AE is designed to work with a variety of boosters,” commented David Waterhouse, CEO of Hypersonix. “We are particularly excited to get our first ride from Rocket Lab. Their track record of successful launches, their team as well as their rockets are impressive and we look forward to seeing DART AE fly for the first-time next year”.

Hypersonix’ DART AE (for Additive Engineering), makes significant use of 3D-printing and is powered by a single patented 3D printed SPARTAN scramjet engine. The advanced fixed geometry of the engine and smart design of the DART AE vehicle developed by Hypersonix provide a simple, reliable service.

Rocket Lab’s Hypersonic Accelerator Suborbital Test Electron (HASTE) rocket will safely bring DART AE to its initial operating speed, allowing DART AE to demonstrate its non-ballistic flight patterns, acceleration, flexible engine burns and up to 1000 km range, and collect valuable flight data from its journey at hypersonic speed.

Hypersonix and Rocket Lab have been considering avenues of cooperation since 2020. The two companies share a similar outlook on customer requirements in a growing market for simple solutions to high availability and high cadence launch, says Hypersonix in a statement. This opportunity to work together will show the attractive benefits of a new space culture and approach.

Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck added: “We look forward to partnering with the innovative team at Hypersonix to deliver highly capable, frequent, and cost-effective hypersonic and suborbital test opportunities.”

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