April 17, 2024

Prototype Drone Touches Subsonic Speed During Test Flight

A Texan firm’s new drone model has sailed through the skies at a previously unimagined speed, reaching 1 111 kilometres per hour, or just under Mach 1.

Venus Aerospace, an aerospace start-up based in Houston, achieved this remarkable feat in February this year, and has set itself the lofty goal of building drones that can achieve Mach 9, exceeding the speed of sound by nine times.

The 2.4-metre experimental drone was launched from an aircraft at an altitude of roughly 300 metres, and, thanks to its hydrogen peroxide monopropellant engine, managed to cruise its 136-kilogram frame for 16 kilometres.

From the test, the company was able to successfully gauge the drone’s flight controls, stability, telemetry, ground operations, air launch and one leg of the ultimate Rotating Detonation Rocket Engine (RDRE) propulsion system.

The US military research division, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, has expressed interest in the propulsion system and partnered with Venus to develop the technology.

“Up next is RDRE flight, and ultimately hypersonic flight, proving that the RDRE is the engine that unlocks the hypersonic economy,” said Venus CEO and co-founder, Sarah Duggleby, centering the company’s goal of hypersonic flight – exceeding speeds of Mach 5 and more.

Although more time, resources and effort must be put towards the technology before commercial hypersonic flight is achieved, Duggleby is optimistic.

“This is how you do hard things: one bite at a time,” she mused.

Image Credit: Source