'Sexbomb' name scrapped for planned Canadian hypersonic munition

Canada-based Space Engine Systems has announced it is making good progress on its "Hello" spaceplanes and has also dropped its "Sexbomb" name for another project.
Christopher McFadden

Bowing to market feedback, Canadian hypersonic aircraft manufacturer Space Engine Systems (SES) has decided to drop its "Sexbomb" name for one of its latest uncrewed hypersonic vehicles.

Its "optionally crewed" hypersonic spaceplane however, the now named "Hello-1X," is also nearing completion, founder Pradeep Dass told Aerospace DAILY at the Paris Air Show. SES is self-funding the project, and, pending regulatory approval; it could be ready by February 2024.

"Hello-1X" has a potent ramjet engine

Dass and his team have developed a 70-ft.-long (21.3-meter-long) technology demonstrator, built with a structure of titanium/stainless steel and powered by SES's pre-cooled DASS GNX turbo-ramjet. The primary objective is to validate aerodynamics and propulsion systems at a scaled level for future orbital and lunar payload delivery vehicles. “We’re just a trucking company for space and lunar missions,” Dass said

"Space Engine Systems is developing the lightest, reusable, multi-fuel propulsion system. The aim is to maximize engine performance for space and high-speed flight through innovative, air-breathing technologies," the company states on its website.

According to Dass, the first "Hello-1X" spaceplane is currently undergoing integration with a DASS GNX engine. The company intends to apply for an experimental certificate from the FAA in August and aims to commence subsonic flight tests by February 2024. However, SES acknowledges that the FAA's regulatory approval process will ultimately dictate the timeline for their plans.

While the company is situated in Edmonton, Canada, they are presently in the process of choosing four locations in the United States for its engineering and flight test operations. According to Dass, the company had previously considered Cecil Field in Jacksonville, Florida, but it is no longer being considered.

SES had previously unveiled its intentions to create a hypersonic munition demonstrator vehicle named "Sexbomb," which would operate without a crew. The initial "Sexbomb" vehicle was partially completed, but the project will proceed only with external funding from a defense corporation or government agency, according to Dass. Furthermore, the "Sexbomb" branding, which combines the company's first two initials with its purpose as a munition, will be eliminated in the future, although it was still visible on brochures circulated at the Paris Air Show.

"Sexbomb" wasn't a popular name

“Some people don’t like [the name],” Dass said. “Maybe some people took offense,” he added. Dass also recognized the high level of danger associated with a small business endeavoring to manufacture spacecraft for orbital and lunar transfers that run on air-breathing, hypersonic propulsion systems.

“I understand there’s every chance of failure,” Dass said. “Don’t get me wrong when you write [an article] that everything is flowery and will be good. We try and mitigate [the risk] as much as we can," he added.

“What we do is we, we put together a whole bunch of parts, and that's our turbine, and then we make our ramjet,” Dass said. The fuel for the turbojet can be Jet-A or hydrogen. He added that a follow-on Hello-1 operational vehicle will also include a kerosene-fueled rocket, which will be acquired from a supplier. 

"We are also developing reusable, horizontal take-off and landing vehicles. These space planes will utilize both air-breathing and rocket propulsion during ascent and then glide back to Earth. Our HELLO-1 and HELLO-2 space planes will be capable of point-to-point transportation, suborbital return, and payload delivery to LEO at the lowest cost per kilogram. In addition to this, HELLO-2 will be capable of providing payload delivery to the lunar surface," the company added.

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