DIU announces new contractors for hypersonic initiative

By Georgina DiNardo / November 15, 2023 at 2:26 PM

The Defense Innovation Unit announced Monday that two new companies were awarded contracts to help with different aspects of the Hypersonic and High-Cadence Airborne Testing Capabilities (HyCAT) initiative.

HyCAT, originally announced in April, was implemented to develop inexpensive, high-cadence hypersonic testing capabilities, according to a DIU press release issued Monday.

DIU has now announced that Hermeus Corp. and Innoveering have secured contracts since the project has grown to include further experimental cruise flight teams.

Hermeus will focus on providing “turbine-based combined cycle propulsion and a pathway for dual use, reusable hypersonic flight aircraft,” DIU said.

“Hermeus will emphasize demonstration of enabling technologies -- aircraft sub-systems and mission integration -- needed for future hypersonic aircraft,” according to DIU.

Meanwhile, DIU said Innoveering, which is a GE Aerospace company, received a contract to prototype an “affordable air-launched air-breathing hypersonic testbed.” The company will use subcontractors Specter Aerospace and Starfighters International to complete the prototype.

“Innoveering will mature the design, conduct supporting modeling and simulation and perform system integration to deliver a robust, hypersonic mission in the coming years,” DIU said.

“Our objective is to provide a diverse set of dual-use technology solutions to the hypersonic testing apparatus, addressing immediate and long-term needs,” Lt. Col. Nicholas Estep said. “This is the ideal conduit for DIU’s involvement -- providing mission-relevant, flight testbeds and novel technology insertions to the Defense Department hypersonic community of interest.”

DIU has tentatively set the initial mission date for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2024.

“This suite of current and future commercial capabilities provides the DOD cost-effective, high cadence test options using the best of today’s recoverable technologies and tomorrow’s reusable technologies,” said Barry Kirkendall, technical director of DIU’s space portfolio.

Fenix Space Inc. was awarded a contract at the beginning stages of the HyCAT initiative and completed the initial concept design and flight trajectories for the project.

In May 2023, DIU launched HyCAT 2, targeting “technical insertions” deemed vital to the hypersonic community.

In HyCAT 2, NXTRAC was one of the initial performers, focusing on commercializing high performance GNC solutions.

“Their solution will be aggressively designed, ground tested, then integrated for hypersonic flight evaluation,” DIU said. “In addition to hypersonics, NXTRAC’s TDSA technology is being explored for a broad range of U.S. government lines of effort, to include seismic monitoring and geothermal exploration with the Department of Energy and informing dynamic space missions with the United States Space Force.”