At the UP.Summit in Bentonville, Arkansas, Venus Aerospace, a startup creating hypersonic aircraft, unveiled the "Stargazer," the company's first conceptual hypersonic vehicle design.
The UP.Summit, now in its fifth year, is an invitation-only event that draws CEOs from some of the world's largest corporations, founders of the most innovative startups, and capital allocators with more than $1 trillion in assets under management.
The UP.Summit was formed in 2017 and is sponsored annually by investment firm UP.Partners, Tom and Steuart Walton, and Ross Perot Jr. in Bentonville, Arkansas, and Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas.
"Stargazer" is a proposed Mach 9 hypersonic drone and a Mach 9 space plane, both of which are allegedly capable of one-hour global travel. The hypersonic aircraft will take off from a regular airport and then fly to the edge of space.
The new Mach 9 hypersonic drone and space plane must be able to take off and land subsonically at normal airports before flying hypersonically. The "Stargazer" will be 100 feet (30.5 meters) broad by 150 feet (46 meters) long when completed, with a takeoff weight of 150,000 pounds (68039 kg). It will also be able to accommodate 12 passengers.
Stargazer will level off and accelerate to Mach 9 after taking off from a regular airport and reaching 170,000 feet (51,817 meters), according to the company. Distances that would take a regular airplane the greater part of a day will be covered in approximately an hour.
Who is Venus Aerospace?
Venus Aerospace is a "deep tech" startup that was founded by Sarah "Sassie" Duggleby and Dr. Andrew Duggleby. The company aspires to construct a Mach 9 hypersonic aircraft that will transport people across the world and back in time for dinner.
The unveiling is the culmination of intense design work that started when the company was founded in 2020. Venus has subsequently secured nearly $33 million in investor funding. This funding has come from a combination of leading venture capitalist investment, and $1 million in government funding.
Venus also recently announced that they have also raised $20 million in a Series A round led by Prime Movers Lab.
Venus has a devoted and experienced team of aerospace, military, and research and development veterans working to push the limits of high-speed transportation.
The team is working on three primary technologies: a zero-emission next-generation rocket engine, a unique aircraft design, and cutting-edge cooling, all of which will allow the spaceplane to take off from current spaceports and infrastructure.
The team wants to preserve the windows in the design since the high-altitude views will be spectacular, explained to Duggleby. In an interview, he stated, “We think existing window technology will allow us to do that."
He wouldn't reveal what kind of fuel the space plane will run on but said it won't leave a carbon impact.
Determining the sound imprint was one of the issues the development team also encountered.
“We worked with NASA at the Johnson Space Center and were able to access the information from the sonic boom testing from the Space Shuttle program,” Duggleby said. “We determined that at altitude and speed flying you will not be able to hear us—we will be flying at 170,000 feet at Mach 9.”
Things are looking very bright for the company, with record scaling over the last year or so. Over a short period of time, Venus has developed and built its technology demonstration engine, carried out important tests at hypersonic wind tunnels and propulsion test facilities across the United States, and began a ground test campaign at Spaceport Houston.
Venus, according to a press release, will begin subsonic and supersonic flight testing of a scaled drone within the next year.