Zillionize invests in Velontra – Hypersonic Space Plane and Engine Development

Velontra is building hypersonic space plane and the engine that powers it. Their space plane can takeoff from anywhere in any weather.  This horizontal takeoff increases launch reliability and enables customers to directly access any orbit.  Their air-breathing propulsion system is up to 6 times more fuel efficient than any rocket and uses oxygen from the air which creates thousands of pounds of additional payload capacity.

Founding Team

Velontra’s founding team includes Joel Darin (CTO), Robert Keane (CEO), and Graig Whelden (President).  Joel was formerly a Senior Research Engineer at Innovative Scientific Solution Inc, Senior Propulsion Engineer at Hermeus, and an Aero Design Engineer at GE Aviation. While at Hermeus, Joel designed, built, and tested a Turbine-Based-Combined-Cycle prototype demonstrator up to Mach 4+. Robert formally worked on the railgun program at BAE Systems where he facilitated the manufacture and assembly of hypersonic launchers. Prior to that he was a Military Exhaust System Mechanical Design Engineer, Military Power and Propulsion Engineering Aero and Thermal Technologies Aero Engineer, and Military Inlet and Exhaust Mechanical Design Engineer at GE Aviation. Before that, Robert was a Force Recon Marine with an award for valor in combat. Graig is a retired Army 2 Star General and has occupied many leadership roles as both a commissioned officer in the Army and a Civilian Executive Director of the Marine Corps Forces Pacific. Given Graig’s experience, we believe that he will be a driving force to keep Velontra on mission.

Hard Technology

Velontra is building a hypersonic engine capable of reaching Mach 5. That is only the first step on their journey, and they already have several buyers lined up to purchase their engines. The next step will involve creating a UAV that utilizes the hypersonic engine and is capable of reaching Mach 5 and launching a second stage rocket into low Earth orbit from an altitude of 100,000ft.


Velontra is well on their way to achieving their goals and has the founding team ensure that happens. Zillionize is excited and very pleased to be a part of their story.