US-based New Frontier Aerospace (NFA) has been awarded a contract to advance the development of its 3D printed, Mach 8 hypersonic aircraft.

The aircraft is a renewably fuelled hypersonic vertical landing jet designed to transport people or cargo to any vertiport on Earth quickly and safely.

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When compared to other existing jets, the aircraft emits fewer greenhouse gases (GHGs).

Awarded by the US Department of Defense’s (DoD) National Security Innovation Capital (NSIC), the $750,000 funding will be used to develop the Mjölnir rocket engine.

The engine’s advanced architecture engages in high-reliability operations with less complexity and ten times more thrust to weight than comparable jet engines.

The contract is aimed at building a reliable new class of rocket engine with the operational efficiencies of the current aircraft engines.

NFA CEO Bill Bruner said: “We look forward to working with NSIC to advance hypersonic engine and aircraft technology in support of US national defence, economic competitiveness and climate goals.”

According to the company, work on the engine is intended to reduce net carbon emissions to zero when renewably sourced liquid natural gas is used to power it.

This is the first stage of the company’s development plan to enhance speed and decrease climate impact.

Part of the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), NSIC is a new DoD initiative that provides financing to early stage hardware start-ups.

It commercialises dual-use technologies that are crucial to national security requirements.

NFA is supported by non-profit global venture studio and accelerator programme ‘Venture for ClimateTech’ and Daybreak Labs operator i-GATE.