Canadian Firm Built Hypersonic Vehicle, Scraps 'Sexbomb' Name

A rendering of the Hello-1X reveals the configuration and size of the 70-ft.-long hypersonic vehicle. 

Credit: Space Engine Systems

LE BOURGET—A small Canadian company named Space Engine Systems (SES) has quietly built an optionally crewed hypersonic aircraft and hopes to fly the self-funded Hello-1X experimental vehicle as early as next February, pending regulatory approvals, founder Pradeep Dass told Aerospace DAILY at the Paris Air Show.

With a structure made of titanium/stainless steel and powered by SES’s pre-cooled DASS GNX turbo-ramjet, the 70-ft.-long technology demonstrator is aimed at validating aerodynamics and propulsion systems scaled for a follow-on series of orbital and lunar payload delivery vehicles, Dass said. 

“We’re just a trucking company for space and lunar missions,” Dass said. 

A DASS GNX engine is being integrated now into the first completed Hello-1X aircraft, he added. The company plans to apply for an experimental certificate from the FAA in August, with a provisional goal of being ready to begin subsonic flight tests by February. But SES accepts that the timeline for the regulatory approval will be dictated by the FAA’s process, Dass said. 

Although based in Edmonton, Canada, the company is currently in the process of selecting four sites in the U.S. for engineering and flight test operations, Dass said. The company originally targeted Cecil Field outside Jacksonville, Florida for test flights, but that site is no longer in consideration, Dass said. 

The advanced status of Hello-1X comes 12 years after SES was established in Canada by Dass, an engineer who also founded the CAN-K company that makes electric pumps for the oil industry. 

SES previously announced plans to develop an uncrewed demonstrator vehicle called the Sexbomb, which could function as a hypersonic munition. The first Sexbomb vehicle has been partially completed, but the project will move forward only if the company receives external financing from a defense company or government agency, Dass said. Meanwhile, the “Sexbomb” branding, which is based on combining the first two initials of the company’s name with its intended application as a munition, will be dropped in the future, although it remained on brochures distributed at the Paris Air Show.

“Some people don’t like [the name],” Dass said. “Maybe some people took offense.”

Dass acknowledges the extreme risks involved with a small company attempting to produce orbital and lunar transfer vehicles powered by air-breathing, hypersonic propulsion systems. 

“I totally understand there’s every chance of failure,” Dass said. “Don’t get me wrong when you write [an article] that everything is flowery and it’s going to be good. We try and mitigate [the risk] as much as we can.”

The propulsion system for the Hello-1X is turbo-ramjet assembled from a collection of off-the-shelf parts. 

“What we do is we, we put together a whole bunch of parts and that's our turbine, and then we make our ramjet,” Dass said. The fuel for the turbojet can be Jet-A or hydrogen. A follow-on Hello-1 operational vehicle also will include a kerosene-fueled rocket, which will be acquired from a supplier, he added. 

Steve Trimble

Steve covers military aviation, missiles and space for the Aviation Week Network, based in Washington DC.


1 Comment
They didn't go into this thing thinking the name 'Sexbomb' wouldn't be an issue? Really?