New Frontier Aerospace’s HyperDrone — Advancing Delivery Technologies Through Partnerships and Funding

EngageSpace is a virtual interactive two-day event that connects thousands of experts, potential government buyers, and space enthusiasts worldwide. New Frontier Aerospace (NFA) was one of the 178 teams selected to exhibit at the event.

Yisela Alvarez Trentini
4 min readOct 7, 2020


New Frontier is a unique technology that combines the ultra-high speeds of a rocket, the precision and flexibility of a drone, and the long-range of a plane. Their team comprises rocket designers, software and sensor engineers, and former NASA and Air Force leaders.

The company was founded in 2017 to revolutionize high-speed transportation. Their jets and rocket-propelled craft can be leased, sold, and operated across a range of applications, resupply military forces, and deliver parcels to patients in need much faster than airplanes or drones.

This year, New Frontier’s HyperDrone was selected among the best in technology to compete in the GST&D (Global Space Transport and Delivery) Challenge, which aims to create a resupply and delivery system to deploy packages, equipment, and supplies anywhere on the planet quickly and accurately.

It’s expected that New Frontier, supported by the i-GATE incubator, will lead flight systems that can bring innovative solutions to the most challenging space scenarios.

AFWERX Engage Space

AFWERX was established in 2017 by the former Secretary of Air Force Heather Wilson. The program fosters a culture of innovation and collaboration within the service and the nation’s top subject matter experts to find new approaches for warfighters and to strengthen the Air Force. This usually includes prototyping, R&D, and production contracts in a wide range of applications.

Their interactive event, EngageSpace, connects visionaries, pioneers, and “road builders to the stars.” Over 800 teams submitted their solution proposals for the coming event, which will occur online (due to the COVID-19 pandemic) September 29–30.

Last year, AFWERX was held in Las Vegas, and 120 businesses participated in its multi-domain tech competition. This year, the event saw 178 selections made from the largest pool of applicants registered.

The companies will be able to show off their work, attract funding, and network with thousands of space experts, startups, potential buyers, and enthusiasts. The event will also feature keynote speakers, panel discussions with innovators, military and government leaders, and workshops.

AFWERX is also supported by The Space Frontier Foundation, an organization dedicated to opening the solar system to human settlement. By unleashing the power of free enterprise, the foundation aims to lead a united humanity permanently into space.

So far, AFWERX has worked with more than 4,000 companies, awarded hundreds of millions of dollars across more than a thousand contracts, and cut countless years from conventional processes.

The Global Space Transport and Delivery Challenge

The mission of the AFWERX Global Space Transport and Delivery (GST&D) challenge is to create a reliable resupply and delivery system that leverages space technology. This includes innovations in launch vehicle systems, personnel life support, on-orbit maneuvering, precision landing, and operator training.

Identifying the technologies that can assure accurate deliveries (of humans, transplant organs, or supplies, to cite some examples) to specific locations on the planet is one of the biggest goals of the challenge.

This is why New Frontier Aerospace was chosen. The company designs and builds a unique product that is a combination of a rocket, an airplane, and a multi-copter, and can operate the vehicles as well as provide ongoing maintenance support.

Among the other entries for the GST&D category announced in the past days included NanoFlowX. Their revolutionary custom specialized nano-coating solution and advanced micro-capsules can activate self-healing properties to deal with corrosion in electronic devices — a problem that typically costs the US Air Force about $6 billion a year.

Connecting Innovation

The AFWERX Engage Space event is designed to accelerate the industry and enable companies and governments to acquire the most promising innovative ideas for the next generation of the space economy.

This is particularly important for non-traditional vendors who may otherwise lack access to or familiarity with military and government partners.

Last year, AFWERX featured over 2,000 attendees, 88 pitches, 60 judges, and 599 government contracts worth $625 million.

Among the companies that received funding through government and defense innovation programs for $63 million last year were 3Data, aApptronik, GenXComm, IOT.AI, Odyssey Arm, and more. Federal funding awards ranged from $10,000 to $15 million, with four companies receiving more than $5 million.

AFWERX is not a winner-take-all competition. Instead, every business that attends has the chance to connect and secure valuable military and government contracts.

This article was originally published in Startup Savant on Saturday, October 3, 2020. Link:



Yisela Alvarez Trentini

Anthropologist & User Experience Designer. I write about science and technology. Robot whisperer. VR enthusiast. Gamer. @yisela_at