Startup News: Boom Supersonic and Hermeus race to build High-Speed jets

Two private companies have made strides recently in their efforts to develop commercial jets that travel faster than the speed of sound.

In late August, Boom Supersonic announced a variety of steps being taken to ready its XB-1 model for its first flight sometime later this year. The XB-1 is a “demonstrator” test-flight jet that will evolve into the Overture, a much larger plane being developed by Boom Supersonic that could carry up to 88 passengers at a speed of Mach 1.7, or roughly 1,300 miles per hour, almost double the speed of sound.

Provided that all goes well with XB-1 testing, Boom plans to roll out the Overture in 2026, with commercial flights possible as soon as 2029.

And an article in Forbes highlighted the efforts that another private jet maker, Hermeus, is hoping to produce a fleet of commercial jets that travel even faster – at five times the speed of sound.

Earlier this year, Boom’s XB-1 jet was moved from the company’s headquarters in Centennial, Colorado to the Mojave Air & Space Port in Mojave, California to continue preparations for flight. The aircraft has undergone extensive ground testing since arriving, including taxi testing. The jet recently received an experimental airworthiness certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), following a detailed aircraft inspection.

Last year, American Airlines, United Airlines, and Japan Airlines announced agreements to purchase Overture jets.

Founded in 2014, Boom is backed by investors including Bessemer Venture Partners, Prime Movers Lab, Emerson Collective, and American Express Ventures. As of April 2021, the company’s valuation was $1.37 billion.

Meanwhile, Forbes recently wrote about Hermeus’s “audacious goal” of building a plane capable of carrying 20 passengers at five times faster than the speed of sound, or approximately 3,850 miles per hour. “Imagine New York to Paris in 90 minutes,” the article states. “Quite an upgrade from the seven-and-a-half hours of a commercial flight today.”

For that goal to be achieved, Forbes writes, Atlanta-based Hermeus will have to build numerous prototypes of supersonic jets while finding solutions to “many of the technical unknowns of high-speed flight.”

Hermeus was founded in 2018 and its valuation, as of March 2022, was $404 million.

Rocket-Maker Firefly Aerospace Inks deal to launch satellites into Space

Last October, Firefly Aerospace reached orbit for the first time with its Alpha rocket. And last week, the company announced that it has signed a multi-launch agreement with L3Harris Technologies for three dedicated launches of L3Harris satellites on Firefly’s Alpha rockets in 2026.

According to the press release, Firefly will provide rapid launch capabilities for L3Harris to achieve direct access to low Earth orbit. The three missions will launch from Firefly’s launch site at the Vandenberg Space Force Base in Lompoc, California.

In addition, Firefly, which is based in Cedar Park, Texas, is ramping up Alpha production at its rocket manufacturing and test site in Briggs, Texas, to support multiple government and commercial launches.

Founded in 2013, Firefly achieved a valuation of $2.1 billion based on a July 2023 financing round.

About the Author

John Kimelman is a veteran journalist who has worked at Barron’s and CNBC covering such topics as investing and commercial banking. Mr. Kimelman has received compensation from Forge Global, Inc. for authoring this article. Read more from John.

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