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Call for ‘hypersonic corridors’ for space planes

written by Adam Thorn | September 19, 2023

Hypersonix Launch Systems has called for governments to introduce “hypersonic corridors” above where traditional aircraft fly in order to facilitate the next generation of ultra-fast aircraft.

On Tuesday, the Brisbane-based business – which is working on its own hypersonic ‘space plane’ – said if new regulatory reforms aren’t introduced soon, it could impede the growth of the sector and “stifle innovation”.

It comes as countries worldwide grapple with how to manage airspace that could grow to include drones, electric aircraft and planes that blur the lines between traditional aircraft and rockets.

While hypersonic tech – defined as flying at least five times the speed of sound – is nothing new, countries are currently in an arms race to develop the next generation of missiles that are so manoeuvrable in mid-air that they can’t be intercepted or detected.


Hypersonic technology is also believed to be able to one day create aircraft that can travel into space, creating an alternative to traditional vertical rocket blast-offs.

Hypersonix co-founder Michael Smart previously told Australian Aviation that his long-term aim is to fly customers to space “like you fly with Qantas”.

On Tuesday, the business outlined what it believes could be the solution to the airspace conundrum.

“Streamlining regulatory and air traffic control processes for uncrewed aircraft, initially designed for slower, lower altitude, and piloted systems, and fostering collaboration among governments, regulatory bodies, and industry stakeholders, is imperative to harness the true potential of hypersonic technology,” it said.

“Hypersonix underscores the critical importance of regulatory reforms to fully unleash the promise of hypersonic drones in Australia.

“Failing to address this pressing need could impede domestic industry growth and stifle innovation.

“Harmonizing concepts like FAA’s ETM cooperative separation are key to establishing hypersonic corridors that can safely integrate into national airspace systems.”

It added that hypersonic travel will become a reality in the next decade, but countries should have the necessary regulations in place now.

“Adaptive reforms, infrastructure development, and standardized guidelines are essential to unlock the transformative potential of this aerospace breakthrough.

“To address the unique challenges posed by high-speed aerial operations, Hypersonix proposes specialised regulatory teams be established, in collaboration with governments and industry experts, to harmonise practical rule sets and standards.

“This includes the integration of high-altitude hypersonic corridors into national airspace infrastructures, ensuring seamless cooperation with high altitude pseudo satellite constellations, high altitude balloons, and other stratospheric airspace users.”

Hypersonix’s push for reform comes after a year of huge growth for the company.

Earlier this year, it agreed to a deal to provide 20 of its hypersonic vehicles to the NASDAQ-listed defence firm Kratos.

The company hopes the deal, which will go through once the system has been successfully demonstrated, will allow it to “significantly” expand its presence in the US.

That announcement came alongside Hypersonix being chosen to supply the US Department of Defense with one of its vehicles for testing.

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