Aerion Supersonic, which has indicated plans to explore hypersonic aircraft possibilities, is taking a step in that direction under an agreement with NASA to jointly study “high-Mach” aircraft, the company announced today. The Space Act Agreement, the third between Aerion Supersonic and NASA, will involve researching propulsion and thermal management technologies for a future generation of commercial aircraft that could operate near hypersonic speeds—between Mach 3 and Mach 5. The latest agreement expands a collaboration between Aerion and NASA that dates back to 2012.
“This is a continuation of a long-standing relationship between Aerion Supersonic and NASA,” said Aerion chairman, president, and CEO Tom Vice. “At Aerion our vision is to build a future where humanity can travel between any two points on our planet within three hours. This partnership will enable the development of technologies that will help realize ultra-high-speed point-to-point global mobility solutions in the Mach 3 to 5 range.”
Aerion has been developing the Mach 1.4 AS2 business jet with plans to bring the aircraft to market later this decade. But Vice told the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Aviation Forum in June that the AS2 is just the beginning for Aerion. He detailed a vision that includes moving on to a much larger AS3 airliner and venturing into hybrid, all-electric power, and—eventually—hypersonic possibilities.
“We have made significant progress on the design of our AS2 supersonic business jet, which will begin production in 2023, and this agreement with NASA will significantly add to the work our company is doing on our next-generation AS3 passenger jet.”
Using Aerion’s in-house aerodynamic optimization tools, the company and NASA will explore the suitability of parameters for propulsion and thermal management technologies, as well as possibilities for enabling technologies surrounding integrated power generation and cabin systems. These optimization tools already have been used to facilitate the design of the AS2.
“NASA Langley seeks to enable the next generation of commercial air transport by generating innovative concepts, capabilities, and technologies for revolutionary advances to improve efficiency and reduce environmental impact,” said Shelly Ferlemann, associate project manager for NASA’s Hypersonic Technology Project. “NASA’s Hypersonic Technology Project is looking forward to working with Aerion in the pursuit of developing these hypersonic technologies to advance future civilian transportation.”