Hermeus, a company seeking to build a Mach 5 aircraft that would be capable of making the trip from New York to London in just 90 minutes has raised a $16 million Series A round, led by Canaan Partners and including contributions from existing investors Khosla Ventures, Bling Capital and the Rise of the Rest Seed Fund. The new funding will help the startup develop and ground test its first full-scale engine, the core component that will eventually power its debut Mach 5 aircraft.
Earlier this year, Hermeus was able to successfully demonstrate a subscale engine prototype, showing that the core design of its technology performed as intended. The company now plans to turn that into a version of the engine that matches its eventual production scale and power, while simultaneously expanding the footprint of its Atlanta-based test facility to also include some light in-house manufacturing capability. It's also going to be working to continue the design of its debut aircraft, and says it will be sharing more info about that first plane over the course of the next few months.
Hermeus says that its target of Mach 5 flight is actually attainable using relatively mature technology already on market, and it cites a team with ample experience across a range of top-flight aerospace companies including SpaceX, Blue Origin, NASA, Boeing and more as another competitive advantage.
Mach 5 is nonetheless ambitious, however. The Concorde flew at speeds of just over Mach 2, and startup Boom Aerospace is targeting Mach 2.2 for its Overture commercial supersonic aircraft. NASA's X-59 experimental supersonic jet, built by Lockheed Martin, will cruise at a speed of around Mach 1.42. Mach 5 obviously would be quite a bit faster than even the most ambitious of those projects, but Hermeus CEO AJ Piplica has said previously the company expects it to take around a decade of development before they produce a commercial passenger aircraft.