Swiss Start-up ‘Destinus’ has recently managed to raise $29 million to fund its hypersonic hydrogen-powered vision for the future of cargo aviation.
We all love next day delivery. In fact, the only bad thing about it is the premium you usually have to pay to get your latest purchase as soon as possible. Well, what if I told you that next day delivery could be getting a lot cheaper, and that there is potential for same day delivery becoming the norm in the future? At least, that’s the knock-on effect I see happening if Swiss start-up Destinus successfully develop their new cargo aircraft prototype. The firm, founded in 2007 by Mikhail Kokorich, has been busy developing an unmanned ‘hyperplane’ that “combines the technological advancements of a spaceplane with the simple physics of a glider,” according to their website. Basically, a rocket/shuttle/glider, the hyperplane is still quite literally a paper plane, still on the drawing board. However, a recent 29$ million seed will more than help development along. That’s a huge amount of money for what is essentially a promise – but the opportunity to be the first investors in a new hypersonic cargo market is too good to pass up. What’s more, with the recent e-commerce boom driving massive growth in the cargo sector, it’s no wonder investors are looking to outpace the future and make sure they tie their bets to the right horse. As we all know, it’s usually the fastest horse that wins the race, and I can’t think of many that’ll be faster than Destinus’ hyperplane. The prototype will, apparently, be able to reach speeds of Mach 15 while also travelling up into the Mesosphere (the bit just before space) before gliding back down to its final destination. The thinking behind this is similar to how ballistic missiles work. Air resistance gets lower the higher up you go, making that Mach 15 top speed a lot easier to reach. The gliding element will not
only ensure the aircraft doesn’t run out of fuel, but also that it doesn’t accidentally exceed its speed limit and fall apart. Oh, and it’s 100% carbon neutral too, running on green hydrogen all the way. This really does make it future-proofed, and I think you can begin to see why investors are getting excited about the design.
With the ability to transport cargo from Sydney to Memphis in under two hours, the aircraft would easily be able to make multiple round trips a day – meaning less time wasted on logistics and transfers. “We have already made significant progress and have designed and filed patents for the unique subsystems, such as a hydrogen active cooling system, enabling a highly reusable hyperplane flying at almost the speed of a rocket,” Kokorich said in a statement. Beyond cargo, too, Kokorich hasn’t ruled out the option for Destinus to transport people in the future as well. Now that would be a sight, screaming along at 15x the speed of sound right at the edge of space – Bezos, eat your heart out! What’s more, Destinus have already built and flown a working prototype model, called the Jungfrau, which will be fitted with all the necessary technology needed to create the hyperplane once it has actually been constructed (and the patents come through.) Aviation technology really is coming on in leaps and bounds – it gets me as excited as a kid before Christmas when I think about what they’ll come up with next!