Aerial Warfare

Stratolaunch Completes 2nd Captive Carry Flight with TA-1 Test Hypersonic Vehicle

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Stratolaunch Completes 2nd Captive Carry Flight with TA-1 Test Hypersonic Vehicle

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Stratolaunch Completes 2nd Captive Carry Flight with TA-1 Test Hypersonic Vehicle
Stratolaunch Completes 2nd Captive Carry Flight with TA-1 Test Hypersonic Vehicle

Stratolaunch announces the completion of a second captive carry flight with the first powered Talon-A hypersonic vehicle, TA-1. The flight was the thirteenth for the company’s launch platform Roc and the second in which the aircraft carried a Talon vehicle with live propellant aboard. It was also the first time TA-1 operated within the Vandenberg Western Range as part of a buildup approach for Talon-A’s first powered flight. The flight lasted a total of 4 hours and 29 minutes, supporting the company’s near-term goal of completing a powered flight with the Talon-A vehicle, TA-1. A primary objective was to evaluate Talon-A’s propulsion system and the flight environments while carrying live propellant.

“We collected valuable data during our first captive carry of TA-1 in December 2023, particularly regarding propellant management of TA-1’s feed system. Our goal with this flight was to continue our risk reduction approach for TA-1’s first powered flight and be steadfast on our commitment of delivering maximum value to our customers when the first powered flight occurs. Initial results of today’s flight look positive for each vehicle’s health and performance, and we will complete a comprehensive review of the test data to determine our next steps toward powered flight” said Dr. Zachary Krevor, Chief Executive Officer and President for Stratolaunch.

Stratolaunch's Talon-A vehicle attached to the center wing of the Roc launch platform during a flight on Feb. 24, 2024.
Stratolaunch’s Talon-A vehicle attached to the center wing of the Roc launch platform during a flight on Feb. 24, 2024. (Photo by Stratolaunch LLC)

A second objective was to verify Roc and TA-1’s telemetry systems in tandem with range communication assets, which together provides the situational awareness needed to ensure all systems are ready for powered flight during the release sequence. Concurrent to TA-1 testing, Stratolaunch is progressing on the manufacturing of the TA-2 and TA-3 vehicles, the first fully reusable vehicles in that Talon-A product line. Pending full data results of the TA-1 first powered flight, TA-2 is anticipated to take flight later in 2024 signaling the United States return to reusable hypersonic flight test. The company is also working on modifications to its additional launch platform, the Spirit of Mojave, a modified Boeing 747-400.

Stratolaunch LLC is an American aerospace company providing high-speed flight test services. 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. After 10 years of previous private investment, the company was acquired in 2019 by Cerberus Capital Management and has since been 100% privately funded and operated as a non-traditional defense contractor. The project originally had three primary components: a carrier aircraft being built by Scaled Composites (model Stratolaunch, called “Roc”[6]), a multi-stage payload launch vehicle which was to have been launched at high altitude into space from under the carrier aircraft, plus a mating and integration system by Dynetics.

Stratolaunch Completes 2nd Captive Carry Flight with TA-1 Test Hypersonic Vehicle
Stratolaunch’s Roc launch platform takes off with the Talon-A1 (TA-1) vehicle for a captive carry flight on Feb. 24, 2024. (Photo by Stratolaunch LLC)

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