Space Image

The Future Of Hypersonic Flight | TLP Exclusive Tour & Interview

TLP's Founder and Network Director, Zac Aubert, was invited inside Space Engine Systems' (SES) Design And Assembly Of Turbo Ramjet Engine Shop in Alberta, Canada for an exclusive first look at their DASS GNX engine and had the chance to sit down with SES President and Chief Technology Officer, Pradeep Dass!

  • More details coming soon...
Sebastian B.

Sebastian B.

Thu Aug 31 2023Written by Sebastian B.

TLP's Founder and Network Director, Zac Aubert, was invited inside Space Engine Systems' (SES) Design And Assembly Of Turbo Ramjet Engine Shop in Alberta, Canada for an exclusive first look at their DASS GNX engine and had the chance to sit down with SES President and Chief Technology Officer, Pradeep Dass!


Who Is Space Engine Systems?

Space Engines Systems (SES) is a Canadian aerospace comapny, located in Edmonton, Alberta Canada. SES was set up in 2011 with the goal of being a trucking service for space.

The main focus of the company is the develpment of their light multi-fuel propulsion systems (DASS GNX) and their reusable hypersonic space plan (HELLO-1 and HELLO-2), which will be able to deploy cargo into suborbital, LEO, GEO, Lunar Orbit, Lunar Surface and possibly even deploy to Mars. Their space plane will also be able to carry up to 36 passenger on suborbital mission, with tickets already on sale.


At the start of the tour, Pradeep takes Zac through their Design And Assembly Of Turbo Ramjet Engine Shop, to take a first look at their DASS GNX engine. Pradeep walks up through how the Turbo Ramjet works, explaining how the air firstly goes through a intake, then through a heat exchanger, to cool it down before proceeding into a compressor, then into the combustion chamber, through a turbine and out the nozzle to produce thrust. 

The DASS GNX engine has 5500 ISP at sea level, and is able to maintain its high ISP all throughout the flight, using a unique system that involves pumping heat through the ramjet while it is still subsonic, so that when the turbine is no longer operational, the Ramjet is already operational, unlike other turbojet engines which don't start the ramjet until after the turbine is no longer operational. This results in a much smoother transition from turbine to ramjet and negates the need for a second mid-air launch of the engine.

The DASS GNX engine will be used on SES's HELLO-1X Demonstrater vehcile and mutliple on their HELLO-1 and HELLO-2 aircraft that are being built and tested by SES.

Hello 1-X will use a single DASS GNX engine, while Hello 1 is will use 2-4, depending on how testing and vertification of the engine goes.

Currently, SES is testing their prototype DASS GNX engine to destruction, which will help them to identify all the possible failure points of the engine, allowing them to then resolve the issues. SES tests its engines in the only portable high thrust turbine engine test facility in the world, the entire test facility fits inside only a few containers, allowing them to test engines wherever they are.

SES Facilities

SES is currently located in Alberta, Canada, However, they are in the process of moving their facilities to the United States, as the Canadian government rejected their requests to test and launch in Canada.

SES is cuurently in talks with multiple states in America to set up testing facilities and launch locations, they currently plan to open 2 facilities in the USA this year, followed by a further 2 next year. Their first US location will be at Cecil Spaceport, in Jacksonville, Florida. SES finds it beneficial to have their facilities spread out across the states so that they can reach more engineers across the country without them having to relocate.

SES is also in talks with the UK department of transport, to allow them to launch from Spaceport Cornwall in England, where they have already leased and begun hiring for the UK operations.


HELLO-1X is SES's Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle, which will fly speeds up to Mach 5 at 32km alltitude. 

Its main purpose is to test the DASS GNX engines in hypersonic flight conditions. Like the other HELLO spacecraft, it is a piloted vehicle that also has an unpiloted option, which allows for more control over the aircraft if something goes wrong.

HELLO-1X is only planned to be flown sub orbital before then returning to the launch site. Beyond initial testing, the HELLO-1 is planned to be used as a pilot training platform and is open for multiple defense applications.


HELLO-1 is the first of two commercial vehicle SES plans to fly. It can carry up to 6 passengers and 2 crew on a sub orbital trajectory, then release a transfer vehicle that can carry payloads of up to 550kg to Low Earth Orbit as well as payloads of up to 70kg to Lunar Orbit.

SES plans to begin flying payload on Hello 1 in 2024, and passengers in 2025, pending FAA approvals.


HELLO-2 is the second, larger space plane SES plans to fly. It is capable of carrying up to 36 passengers and 2 crew to Low Earth Orbit, with payload delivery options of 5,500kg to LEO, 1,700kg to GEO, 1,650kg to the Lunar surface and 520kg to Mars Orbit.

HELLO-1 and HELLO-2 are horizontal takeoff and landing spacecraft, but due to the size of HELLO-2 it will be restricted to taking off from any airport capable of supporting an A380, while being significantly smaller so taking up less space. 

The Future

Once SES is making positive cashflow, the plan is to start focusing on transforming the company into its end goal of being a cheap, quick and effective trucking service to the moon. Part of making this happen will be using their Scramjet technology, which is still a few years away from being functional, but when it is it will allow for a ISP significantly higher than what is currently possible with Turbo ramjets. 

SES plans to compete directly with SpaceX in both cost, and price. They hope to achieve this through their use of much shorter flight times, which require far less fuel than a reusable rocket, which has to use fuel to return and land, as opposed to Space planes which can just glide back down to a runway, where it can then be refueled and relaunched almost immediately.

While Pradeep couldn't talk about cost, he noted that the Payload Mass fraction of the HELLO-1 and HELLO-2 are highly competitive when compared to SpaceX's Starship and Falcon 9

Why the Moon?

Pradeep has always been fascinated with the moon, and is a strong believer that a Moon base should have been established long ago, instead of building the ISS in LEO, and wants to be put this right. 

He believes that missions to the moon accelerate innovation which benefits people on Earth, from the Satellites we use on a daily basis which modern phones would not function without, to less obvious innovations such as battery powered tools, which were initially created for spaceflight. These and many other household items which we today consider simple and essential, but prior to spaceflight, they were unthought of because there had never been a need for them. So "imagine the technologies we would have today", had the spaceflight industry not been continually scaled back after the apollo missions and we instead continued to explore.

Why Focus On A Space Planes Instead Of A Traditional Rocket?

If you can't have the lowest cost to space, you just become another company struggling to compete.

Traditional rockets, especially reusable ones, don't have the payload mass fraction or ISP to bring the lowest prices. Even SpaceX's Falcon 9, which is currently the industry leader, is still expensive with a low payload mass fraction.

How Does SES Go About Manufacturing In House & Sourcing Parts?

SES will manufacture in house, but not design the parts, wherever possible they will use off the shelf items and don't focus on aerospace hardware for ground testing, since they don't need to meet any aerospace guidelines or approval to test. This allows for rapid production at a much cheaper price than more conventional approaches. They are also wary about how many of a certain part they buy, avoiding buying in bulk at a reduced price as it is cheaper to buy a single part and keep the savings for something else. SES also avoids patenting any of their designs where possible, to save time and avoid lawsuits.

What Message Would SES Give To Younger People Who Want To Get Into The Space Industry?

Pradeep turns this question to the Canadian Government instead, explaining how them not approving them to test and launch in Canada has caused them to turn to the United states instead, which has a negative effect on students in Canada who might now find it hard to get into the space industry because the Canadian Government turns away so many Canadian Space companies.

If they were to approve of these comapanies operating out of Canada, many more young people would feel inspired to pursue careers in the spaceflight industry.

Thank you to Pradeep Dass and the hard working team at SES for this exclsuive first look at their DASS GNX engine and interview breaking down everything at Space Engine Systems.

As always, everyone here at The Launch Pad looks forward to following you through your future endeavours and wish you every success!