Where We're Going We Don't Need Roads

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2nd Lieutenant
May 30, 2011
Cape Canaveral
From Aviation Week:

German regional air mobility startup Lilium is to go public in a deal expected to provide up to $830 million in funds to complete certification, begin production and launch commercial operation of its piloted seven-seat Lilium Jet air taxi in 2024.

Munich-based Lilium is to list on the Nasdaq through a merger with Qell Acquisition Corp., a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) led by Barry Engle, a former president of General Motors North America.

Expected to close in the second quarter, the SPAC transaction values the company at approximately $3.3 billion. Total gross proceeds are expected to be approximately $830 million, including $380 million in cash held in trust and $450 million from a PIPE, or private investment in public entity.

The PIPE includes investments from Tesla and SpaceX backer Baillie Gifford and from funds managed by BlackRock, Tencent, transportation infrastructure company Ferrovial, Liechtenstein private banking company LGT, Palantir and FII Institute. Lilium has previously raised more than $376 million.

Lilium is the latest advanced air mobility startup to strike a SPAC deal. Archer merged with Atlas Crest Investment Corp. in a transaction that raised $1.1 billion and valued the company at $3.8 billion and Joby Aviation merged with Reinvent Technology Partners in a deal that raised $1.6 billion and valued the company at $6.6 billion.

Announcing the merger, Lilium also unveiled its production design, which has been scaled up to seven seats from the five-seat technology demonstrator that conducted unmanned flight tests in 2019. The aircraft uses ducted-fan vectored thrust for electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL)—36 fans on the wing and foreplane providing lift in vertical flight, thrust in forward flight and flight control in all phases.

With a span of 13.9m (45.6 ft.), the Lilium Jet is projected to have a cruise speed of 280 kph (175 mph) at 10,000 ft. and a range of more than 250 km (155 mi.) including reserves. This is based on batteries with a cell-level energy density of 320 Wh/kg, up from the 250 Wh/kg currently available commercially.

It's a funny thing. Back during WWII when jet engines first came out, for a while it appeared that you could build them any size you wished. One design for the FH1 Phantom had six small jet turbines embedded in the wings. They soon found out that was not a good idea. I don't know how anyone could have thought that six small just engines would have weighed no more than a couple of larger ones, even if they were able to reduce drag by making them smaller.

But now, look at that design. It has 24 powerplants. The vision of 1944 has at last been realized. I wonder if that approach is driven more by safety, control requirements, or aerodynamics.
That might be fine and all, but I cringe anymore when I see "advancements" in batter-powered vehicle technology.
The materials needed for vehicle batteries are extremely finite with no way to recycle the rare elements (lithium, cobalt, etc.) so they end up in landfills.
The increase in electric vehicles has created a burden on the power grid, which is still reliant on fossil fuel for the bulk of it's power.

So I'm not impressed...

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