For many decades, space travel was dominated by government agencies such as NASA and Roscosmos. In the meantime, however, private companies are also playing an increasingly important role. Last but not least, Elon Musk with his startup SpaceX is responsible for this. Among other things, the company has succeeded in using rocket engines several times and thus massively reducing the costs of transport into space. Because the technology used in the satellites is also becoming cheaper and cheaper, this has opened up completely new application possibilities. In fact, around 50,000 additional satellites are to be launched within this decade for research, communication and earth observation. However, one problem remains unresolved in this regard. Because the SpaceX rockets, which have been used several times, are also powered by fossil fuels. The climate balance of space travel is therefore still in need of improvement. That’s where Australian startup Hypersonix comes in.
Green hydrogen is used instead of fossil fuels
With the Delta Velos Orbiter, the engineers there have developed their own platform that can deploy satellites in low earth orbits. A major advantage of the new development: Any position in orbit can be reached from anywhere on earth. Long transports on earth are therefore no longer necessary. Even more innovative, however, is the propulsion technology used for the orbiter. The newly developed hypersonic drive bears the name Spartan and consists of ceramic fiber composite materials. These have the advantage that they are extremely light and at the same time robust and heat-resistant. The highlight, however, is that the so-called scramjet drive is operated with green hydrogen. As a result, no climate-damaging emissions are released during the flight. At the same time, the drive system can be reused up to a hundred times. This reduces costs and also improves the environmental balance. The approach could also be used to replace individual defective satellites in space.
The theoretical research work has now been completed
With the extremely energy-efficient yet sustainable drive, speeds between Mach 5 and Mach 12 can be achieved. So far, however, the technology has never been used commercially. Hypersonix engineers have been researching the new drive technology for around thirty years. Now you are sure: You know how the drive has to be designed. The scientific research work is thus largely completed. The task now is to put the theoretical knowledge into practice. The company’s current plans assume that the first Delta Velos Orbiter could take to the air in a good two years. Before it can be used across the board, however, it would still have to be clarified whether sufficient quantities of green hydrogen are actually available. Because the electrolysis required for this is extremely energy-intensive. A mandatory prerequisite for production is therefore the expansion of renewable energies.