Rocket Lab and Hypersonix test DART AE aircraft over 8600km/h to test hypersonic weapons

By Maksim Panasovskyi,
Published by, 21 April 2023

Rocket Lab recently announced the development of a new rocket for hypersonic suborbital launches. It is called the Hypersonic Accelerator Suborbital Test Electron (HASTE). The rocket will be used to test the DART AE hypersonic aircraft.

Here’s What We Know

Last month, the US Department of Defense signed a contract with Hypersonix Launch Systems to develop a high-speed test aircraft. It will be used as part of the Hypersonic and High-Cadence Airborne Testabilities (HyCAT) programme.

The aircraft is named DART AE. Hypersonix is developing the aircraft in Australia. It will be 2.8 metres long and have a top speed of Mach 7 (8643.6 km/h) thanks to a SPARTAN straight-through engine.

A new press release on Hypersonix Launch Systems’ website says the DART AE has a range of 1,000km. Previously, a range of 500 km was listed.

At this stage of development, the DART AE cannot take off on its own. That is what HASTE will be used for. A Rocket Lab rocket will allow DART AE to reach its operating speed (Mach 5 / 6174 km/h).

Hypersonix experts plan to test engine performance and acceleration during the tests. Engineers are also interested in hypersonic flight data.

Source: Hypersonix Launch Systems

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