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Video: Air Force-backed startup reveals hypersonic aircraft prototype

Hermeus' Quarterhorse hypersonic aircraft. (Hermeus/Released)

Air Force-backed startup Hermeus rolled out a hypersonic aircraft prototype, firing the drone’s afterburning engine during a ceremony at an Atlanta airport.

The unveiling of the non-flying Quarterhorse prototype marks the latest step in the Georgia company’s effort to make reusable hypersonic aircraft and eventually jetliners that can fly passengers at five times the speed of sound.

“Hypersonics needs a unifying vision,” Hermeus CEO A.J. Piplica said at the prototype unveiling. “That vision should be accelerating the global human transportation network.”

The Air Force, which along with venture capital firms contributed $60 million to speed Hermeus’ work, wants hypersonic technology for gathering intelligence and flying its officials around the world.

The prototype unveiled at last week’s private ceremony is being used for ground-based hardware development and integration; it is not designed to fly, the company said in a statement.

“Building this vehicle was an exercise in multidisciplinary design, manufacturing, and the integration of complete systems,” the company said.

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