Supersonic & Hypersonic Civilian Transport Projects in Development

Overture supersonic passenger jet (Credit: Boom Supersonic)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Boom Supersonic’s recent rollout of its XB-1 supersonic demonstrator aircraft marked a milestone in an accelerating race to revive an era of civilian supersonic travel that ended when the Concorde jetliner was retired in 2003.

XB-1, aka Baby Boom, is set to begin flight tests next year from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The Mach 2.2 (2,717 km/h, 1,688 mph) vehicle is the precursor to Boom’s 55-seat Overture airliner, which is scheduled to begin carrying passengers in 2029.

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AFWERX Announces EngageSpace, Premier Collaboration Event for Space Industry

LAS VEGAS (AFNS) — AFWERX, the U.S. Air Force’s innovation catalyst, announced Sept. 16 that registration is now live for EngageSpace virtual event. Join AFWERX, the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Space Force and the Space Frontier Foundation for this two-day virtual event on September 29-30.

With its highly interactive format and diverse participants, this event is designed to revolutionize how the space ecosystem works, dismantle the walls between sectors and close the “believability gap” for what’s possible in space.

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Orbit Logic Awarded AFRL/AFWERX Space Situational Awareness Planning & Analysis Contract

GREENBELT, MD (Orbit Logic PR) – Orbit Logic, a leading provider of planning and scheduling software, announced today that it has been awarded an AFWERX Direct to Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).

The award will enhance the Heimdall Fire Space Situational Awareness (SSA) planning solution. Heimdall Fire is an existing software solution consisting of Orbit Logic COTS software products configured for SSA observation planning.

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AFWERX Awards Accion Systems $2.25 Million Phase II SBIR Contract

Air Force Award Will Drive Advanced Development and Commercialization of Multi-Mode In-Space Propulsion System.

BOSTON, Mass., August 11, 2020 (Accion Systems PR — In-space propulsion pioneer Accion Systems announced today that it has been awarded a follow-on Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract through AFWERX, in partnership with Air Force Research Lab (AFRL), and the National Security Innovation Network (NSIN). The award recognizes the successful completion of the Phase I SBIR contact earlier this year and exciting promise for Accion’s TILE ion electrospray propulsion for use in national security missions. 

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Earth Observant Inc. Wins Air Force Contract to Further Development of VLEO Optical Payload

SAN FRANCISCO (Earth Observant PR) — Earth Observant Inc. (EOI) received this award under the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program and is working with AFWERX, the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).

Selected from a competitive line-up of start-up companies, EOI is eager to apply the SBIR award toward advancing its vision for a VLEO satellite imaging platform.

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Hermeus Wins Air Force Investment After Demonstrating Mach 5 Engine

Mach 5 aircraft (Credit: Hermeus Corporation)

ATLANTA (Hermeus Corporation PR) — Hermeus Corporation, the aerospace company developing Mach 5 commercial aircraft, has partnered with the U.S. Air Force and the Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate to work toward hypersonic travel for the Department of Defense.  This award comes under an Other Transaction For Prototype Agreement Direct to Phase II contract through AFWERX after Hermeus successfully tested a Mach 5 engine prototype in February 2020.

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ABL Space Systems Begins RS1 Stage Testing, Reaches $90 Million in Funding

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Aug. 3, 2020 (ABL Space Systems PR) — ABL Space Systems has begun stage testing of the RS1 small satellite launch vehicle, and has been awarded two US DoD contracts and secured a large round of funding with a combined value of over $90 million. ABL’s awards and funding are key to the rapid development of the RS1 launch vehicle and GS0 deployable launch system, with a demonstration launch slated for Q1 of 2021.

ABL’s DoD contracts, awarded by the Air Force Research Laboratory and AFWERX, with participation from the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, total $44.5 million over three years. Additionally, ABL has secured $49 million of financing led by Ethan Batraski at Venrock with participation from New Science Ventures, Lynett Capital, and Lockheed Martin Ventures. The recent round closed on March 31st, and fully funds ABL through a three launch demonstration campaign in 2021.

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BlackSky to Track COVID-19 Impact on Military Readiness

U.S. Air Force to utilize BlackSky’s artificial intelligence and machine learning analytics platform to maintain force readiness and secure the supply chain.

HERNDON, Va. – July 21, 2020 – BlackSky, a leading provider of global monitoring services powered by geospatial intelligence and advanced AI/ML analysis, has been awarded a U.S. Air Force contract through AFWERX and the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) to monitor the efficacy of COVID-19 mitigation efforts worldwide.

The contract calls for BlackSky to monitor overseas U.S. military bases and help maintain secure supply chains using its Spectra artificial intelligence and machine learning platform. Near-real time global monitoring capabilities will track the spread of COVID-19 to ensure the protection of deployed personnel, and secure critical nodes of the supply chain.

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Phase Four Wins USAF to Adapt Maxwell In-space Engine for Defense Needs

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., March 17, 2020 (Phase Four PR) — Phase Four, makers of radio frequency (RF) plasma engines for in-space propulsion, has been awarded an SBIR Phase I contract by Air Force tech accelerator AFWERX, in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory and the National Security Innovation Network.

As part of this partnership, beginning in March 2020, Phase Four will work with the Air Force to adapt its revolutionary Maxwell in-space propulsion system to meet the needs of defense users.

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