• (Credit: UQ)
    (Credit: UQ)

Boeing and Australia-based Hypersonix Launch Systems have signed an agreement to investigate the design of a sustainable hypersonic vehicle powered by the Hypersonix SPARTAN scramjet engines.

Hypersonix and Boeing Research & Technology (BR&T) will conduct a joint study on the design of a reusable hypersonic vehicle to be used for the sustainable launch of satellites to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). This low cost, reliable, reusable and rapid turn-around launch of small satellites to LEO would be the first application of scramjets for space launch.

"The agreement with Hypersonix Launch Systems demonstrates Boeing's continued commitment to building out critical sovereign capability, supporting the development of Australia's space industry - safely and sustainably ­- and also partnering with small- and medium-sized enterprises," Brendan Nelson, president of Boeing Australia, NZ and the South Pacific, said.

Boeing has been involved in hypersonic flight through experimental and operational hypersonic vehicles such as the X-15, Space Shuttle, X-43A, X-51A, X-37 and HIFiRE-4. Boeing has also been involved in the Australian hypersonic technology development since 2007 as a core partner in the HIFiRE program.

Hypersonix has developed a fifth-generation green hydrogen powered scramjet engine called SPARTAN, which is a fully composite reusable accelerating scramjet engine capable of speeds of Mach 12.

“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.  “We ‘fly to space’, are fully re-usable and we use green hydrogen to provide a high cadence and flexible LEO launch service.”

Last year, Hypersonix received an Accelerating Commercialisation Grant from the Federal Department of Industry. Hypersonix is also working with BOC on the supply of green hydrogen as fuel for the SPARTAN scramjet.

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