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Hypersonix, Rocket Lab Team for First US Hypersonic Drone Test

Hypersonix and Rocket Lab have partnered to conduct the US Defense Innovation Unit’s (DIU) first hypersonic drone test.

The test is part of the Hypersonic and High-Cadence Testing Capabilities (HyCAT) project to prototype a suite of affordable, modern, dual-use aerial vehicles.

The resulting systems will be used to validate concepts, technologies, and mission-specific capabilities in the US military.

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

DART AE 3D-Printed Drone and HASTE Rocket

For the HyCAT project, Hypersonix is developing its DART AE (additive engineering) airborne drone in Australia.

The 3D-printed vehicle is powered by a Spartan scramjet engine. It features oxygen-breathing capability and hydrogen fuel storage made of high-temperature alloy to meet the demands of ignition from Mach 5 to 7.

DART AE. Photo: Hypersonix Launch Systems

Meanwhile, Rocket Lab will provide its Hypersonic Accelerator Suborbital Test Electron (HASTE) rocket to boost the DART AE to its initial operating speed.

This approach enables the drone to perform non-ballistic flight, acceleration, engine burn, and data collection at hypersonic speed.

“We have looked at various launch providers globally, as DART AE is designed to work with a variety of boosters,” Hypersonix CEO David Waterhouse stated.

“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.”

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