Atlanta-based hypersonic aircraft startup Hermeus raises funding

Source: Hermeus

Source: Hermeus

An Atlanta-based startup working on the development of hypersonic aircraft announced it has raised funding.

The startup, Hermeus Corp., said venture capital firm Khosla Ventures led the seed round investment, with other private investors participating, including two members of the Hermeus board of advisors. The company would not disclose how much money it has raised.

The funds will be used to further develop and test a hypersonic propulsion system, according to Hermeus. Chief operating officer Skyler Shuford said the company plans to seek series A funding in about a year, depending on meeting technical milestones.

The company was founded last year and its staff is made up of its four co-founders, with offices just opened at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport. Shuford said the company plans to hire up to two to three more people over the next couple of months.

Hermeus aims to develop aircraft that would be able to fly above Mach 5, or more than 3,000 miles per hour, to reduce flight times from New York to London from 7 hours to 90 minutes. The concept would be a 20-person aircraft targeting the private jet market or business class travelers, according to Shuford.

But it will be years before that could become a reality. Shuford said the company is targeting an 8- to 10-year time frame, including a 4- to 5-year process for Federal Aviation Administration certification.

The aircraft “has the potential to have great societal and economic impact,” said Khosla Ventures founder Vinod Khosla in a written statement in the announcement on the Hermeus website.

The company said its board members include former Blue Origin president Rob Meyerson, former Lockheed Martin Skunk Works general manager Rob Weiss, former FAA associate administrator George Nield, former Northwest Airlines technical operations director Mitch Free and others.

Hermeus says its CEO and co-founder AJ Piplica, Shuford and the other co-founders previously worked at Atlanta-based Generation Orbit, where they helped develop a hypersonic flight research vehicle X-60A for the Air Force Research Laboratory through the Air Force Small Business Innovation Research program.

Piplica said in a written statement that Hermeus aims to “revolutionize the global transportation infrastructure” by “radically increasing the speed of travel over long distances.”