Stratolaunch, LLC announces a contract with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) to support the first flight test of the company’s second reusable Talon-A hypersonic test vehicle, TA-3. Launched from Roc, the world’s largest flying aircraft, Talon-A vehicles are rocket-powered, autonomous testbeds with the ability to fly a variety of hypersonic flight profiles while carrying customized payload experiments on board. Stratolaunch announced its first contract with AFRL in late 2022 supporting its first flight of TA-1, an expendable configuration of the Talon-A product line. Reusability is an important factor enabling an increase in the cadence of hypersonic testing. Stratolaunch’s repeatable approach enables rapid, iterative testing, increasing the pace of access to the hypersonic environment while reducing development cost, schedule, and risk.
We’re pleased AFRL chose to support the flight of TA-3 and continues to see value in our approach to low cost, high-cadence flight test. We look forward to increasing the cadence of our flight test services for our customers in the near future,” Dr. Zachary Krevor President and CEO of Stratolaunch said.
Stratolaunch is developing a reusable, rocket-powered, hypersonic flight vehicle called Talon-A that would be capable of flying at speeds of Mach 5 – Mach 7 (6,100–8,600 km/h; 3,800–5,300 mph). The aircraft is 28 ft (8.5 m) in length, with a wingspan of 11.3 ft (3.4 m), and is intended to have a launch mass of approximately 6,000 lb (2,700 kg). The company reportedly has sufficient funding in place to complete early development through the first hypersonic test flight. As of November 2020, construction of the prototype was underway and portions of the fuselage were complete. In 2022 it was announced that the Talon-A will use Ursa Major Technologies Hadley engine.
Stratolaunch LLC is an American aerospace company providing high-speed flight test services. The company designs, manufactures, and launches aerospace vehicles and technologies to fulfill several important national needs, including the need for reliable, routine access to space and the need to significantly advance the nation’s ability to design and operate hypersonic vehicles. It was originally formed in 2011 to develop a new air-launched space transportation system, with its corporate headquarters located in Seattle, Washington. The company and development project were officially announced in December 2011 by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and Scaled Composites founder Burt Rutan, who had previously collaborated on the creation of SpaceShipOne.