Hermeus, an Atlanta-based hypersonic aircraft startup, has raised a seed funding round led by Khosla Ventures. The funding will further the development and testing phases of Hermeus’ aircraft — which when complete, will fly passengers the distance of New York to Paris in about 90 minutes.
Hermeus’ CEO AJ Piplica formerly served as COO and CEO of Generation Orbit Launch Services, a division of aerospace engineering firm SpaceWorks Enterprises. At Generation Orbit, his team primarily worked with small air-launch rocket systems for high-speed flight research.
“We’ve set out on a journey to revolutionize the global transportation infrastructure, bringing it from the equivalent of dial-up into the broadband era, by radically increasing the speed of travel over long distances,” said Piplica in a statement.
He formed Hermeus in 2018 with a group of former Generation Orbit directors with similarly impressive pedigrees: CTO Glenn Case worked for Blue Origin and NASA; CPO Michael Smayda for SpaceX; and COO Skyler Shuford for Space Exploration Technologies.
Hermeus’ board of advisors, several of whom are private investors in the company, have decades of experience in the aerospace, private and commercial aviation, and regulatory industries. They include leaders with experience at Blue Origin, Lockheed Martin, the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation and National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, Shearwater Aero Capital, the FAA, and Northwest Airlines.
The aircraft being developed by the Hermeus team will travel above Mach 5 speeds at over 3,000 miles per hour. The startup claims that it will safely travel up to 4,600 miles, ideal for long-haul business class travel.
Shuford tells Hypepotamus that, due to technical and regulatory hurdles, they are working toward an 8-10 year timeframe for the first commercial flights.
“There are a number of companies with various approaches working in high-speed transportation. Our goal is to move people significantly faster by combining mature technologies in a novel way,” says Shuford.
“Hermeus is developing an aircraft that not only improves the aviation experience with very reduced flight times, but also has the potential to have great societal and economic impact.” said Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures.
Photos provided by Hermeus