Rocket Lab to launch hypersonic drone for US Department of Defense

Rocket Lab has announced that its rocket will launch a hypersonic drone into a suborbital trajectory. It was made on the order of the American military by the Australian company Hypersonix. The flight will be demonstrative and will take place in 2025.

Hypersonic drone from Hypersonix. Source: Hypersonix

Rocket Lab to launch hypersonic drone

The American company Rocket Lab is known as a provider of services for launching various cargoes into orbit. Recently, its representatives announced their readiness to send a hypersonic drone built by the Australian company Hypersonix on a suborbital flight.

The launch is scheduled for 2025 from Launch Complex 2 on Wallops Island. It will take place using a version of the Electron rocket, which is called Hypersonic Accelerator Suborbital Test Electron, or HASTE. It is specially designed to launch hypersonic vehicles.

The drone has a weight of 300 kg and a size of 3 m. Its body is printed on a 3D printer. The flight should be a test, but no details about it are reported because the customer is the American military.

Why the US military is interested in hypersonic drones

The interest of the US military in vehicles capable of flying at speeds much higher than sound is not accidental. Both Russia and China are developing such vehicles, since it is extremely difficult to intercept missiles or reconnaissance aircraft based on them by air defense.

That is why the Office of Defense Innovation of the US Department of Defense has created a program for the development of these HyCat vehicles. This organization is specifically based in Silicon Valley to be closer to startups that can implement these ideas.

The HASTE rocket is one of the results of this program. It was already launched in June of this year, and the launch was so successful that 4 more were already ordered for 2024 and 2025. As for the hypersonic drone project, in addition to Rocket Lab and Hypersonix, Fenix Space is also involved in it — a California startup that has developed a reusable platform that can be tugged.

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