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Hypersonic Rocket Cargo Drone

Destinus' hypersonic rocket cargo drone is eco-friendly.

Hypersonic Rocket Cargo Drone

The founder of Russia's answer to SpaceX, Mikhail Korkorich, says that his new company Destinus is building a hydrogen-powered, zero-emissions, transcontinental cargo drone capable of hypersonic Mach 15 cruise speeds.

The Hyperplane will use liquid hydro for propulsion, keeping emissions to a minimum. It will be able to blast cargo between Europe and Australia in just a couple of hours, a far cry from the suborbital shipping services offered by other companies.

Korkorich explained that this would be done using a first-stage air turbo rocket engine, and then activate its second stage, a rocket engine, to accelerate to hypersonic speeds of Mach 13 to Mach 15 at mesospheric altitudes of more than 50 km (160,000 feet), when air resistance is substantially decreased.

The Hyperplane, at least in its current iteration, is a fully autonomous machine. It takes off from regular airport runways and cruises at subsonic speeds toward the coast. Then, once it reaches the water, it switches to supercruise mode and accelerates to hypersonic speeds. The whole trip takes just a couple of hours, making it the fastest way to ship cargo across the continent.

Korkorich says the Hyperplane's unique selling point is its ability to move cargo at a much lower cost than traditional planes – and with much less noise. By flying way up in the mesosphere, he says the Hyperplane will generate "10 times less" sonic boom noise than conventional planes. This means the Hyperplane can transport high-value cargo – fresh fish from the Mediterranean, for example – at the same cost as traditional planes, but with much fresher food.

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The company has opened offices in Spain, France, Switzerland, and Germany, and has raised significant funding to get started. However, it will need even more funding to build, which may be challenging given that airlines are notoriously hostile to new competitors. (Via)

Hypersonic Rocket Cargo Drone

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