Venus Aerospace is currently in the process of constructing a hypersonic aircraft with a passenger capacity of approximately twelve individuals. The aircraft is designed to travel at Mach 9, which is equivalent to nine times the speed of sound. According to the Houston-based company, The Stargazer will traverse between two global cities, while measuring 150 feet in length and 100 feet in width. The aircraft will achieve this feat by soaring at an altitude of 170,000 feet and attaining a velocity of 6,905 mph.
The term “hypersonic” refers to a speed that is equivalent to five times the speed of sound. In contrast, the Concorde, which was the previous supersonic jet used for commercial purposes, had a maximum speed of Mach 2, equivalent to approximately 1,535 miles per hour. Lockheed’s SR-71 “Blackbird” is the swiftest aircraft ever constructed, capable of reaching a velocity of Mach 3.2 (2,455 mph).
Andrew Duggleby, the CTO and co-founder of Venus, intends to transform the concept of Stargazer from a fictional idea to a tangible reality. This will be achieved through the use of a rotating-detonation engine that can rotate at a speed of 20,000 rotations per second. The company reported that during a recent prototype test at its Spaceport Houston headquarters, the rotating detonation process was observed. This process involves the continuous occurrence of supersonic combustion within the engine. The company’s video captured the mov
The US Navy is advocating for the implementation of the rotating-detonation concept, which has been shown to consume 20 percent less fuel compared to traditional engines. The aforementioned technology has undergone successful testing in the past. The utilization of a room-temperature storable propellant during the Venus test marks a significant milestone in the development of aircraft engines. This breakthrough will enhance the engine’s feasibility for aircraft applications. According to Duggleby, the necessary technical expertise and engineering capabilities are now available to progress towards the subsequent stages of development and flight testing.
The Stargazer, weighing 150,000 pounds, is equipped with conventional jet engines for takeoff. However, it is designed to switch to rockets upon reaching a certain altitude. The flight path does not adhere to the Karman line, which is situated 100 kilometers above the Earth’s surface and is considered the boundary of space. Therefore, it cannot be classified as a spaceflight. The altitude will be sufficient to provide a view of the planet’s curvature and the void of space.
Jim Bridenstine, a former NASA administrator and US Congressman, stated that the test signifies a significant progress towards actual flying systems, which can be utilized for defense purposes and eventually for high-speed commercial travel.
Since 2020, Venus Aerospace has been engaged in the development of a hypersonic aircraft concept. The company has secured $33 million in funding to support the construction of the aircraft. The company is commencing hypersonic flight testing using a 20-foot drone with the aim of achieving a Mach 5 speed. Subsequently, the Stargazer prototype will be constructed, although a release date has not yet been disclosed.
Several companies are currently developing hypersonic business-jet concepts. Among them are Sierra Space, which is constructing the “Dream Chaser,” and Hermeus, an Atlanta-based firm that is designing a Mach 5 aircraft named the “Quarterhorse.” China’s Space Transportation is currently in the process of developing a 12-passenger jet with the capability of reaching speeds of 4,350 miles per hour. This technology would allow for travel from locations such as New York to Beijing to be completed in approximately one hour.
Virgin Galactic has a long-term objective of utilizing its supersonic aircraft to facilitate the transportation of passengers between remote cities at Mach velocities. In 2018, the Unity 2 aircraft of the company achieved a speed of Mach 2.47, surpassing the previous record of Mach 2.02 held by Concorde.