Aerial Warfare

Stratolaunch Celebrates First Powered Flight of TA-1 Test Vehicle

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Stratolaunch Celebrates First Powered Flight of TA-1 Test Vehicle

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Stratolaunch Celebrates First Powered Flight of TA-1 Test Vehicle
Stratolaunch Celebrates First Powered Flight of TA-1 Test Vehicle

Stratolaunch, LLC is pleased to announce it has successfully completed the first powered flight of the Talon-A test vehicle, TA-1. This first flight represents a major milestone in the development of the country’s first privately funded, reusable hypersonic test capability. Primary objectives for the flight test included accomplishing safe air-launch release of the TA-1 vehicle, engine ignition, acceleration, sustained climb in altitude, and a controlled water landing. Concurrent to TA-1 testing, Stratolaunch is progressing on the manufacturing of TA-3, the second fully reusable vehicle in that Talon-A product line. The company is also beginning modifications to its additional launch platform, the Spirit of Mojave, a modified Boeing 747-400.

“Today was a great day for the Stratolaunch team. I am extremely proud of their perseverance to reach this point. The successful outcome of the test is a direct result of the team’s technical prowess and professionalism. While I can’t share the specific altitude and speed TA-1 reached due to proprietary agreements with our customers, we are pleased to share that in addition to meeting all primary and customer objectives of the flight, we reached high supersonic speeds approaching Mach 5 and collected a great amount of data at an incredible value to our customers. Our goal with this flight was to continue our risk reduction approach for TA-2’s first reusable flight and be steadfast on our commitment of delivering maximum value to our customers. We are excited to review the data from today’s test and use it as we plan our next steps toward TA-2’s first flight later this year,” said Dr. Zachary Krevor, Chief Executive Officer for Stratolaunch.

Stratolaunch's Talon-A stands ready at sunrise for its first powered flight on March 9, 2023
Stratolaunch’s Talon-A stands ready at sunrise for its first powered flight on March 9, 2023. (Photo by Stratolaunch)

Originally proposed in 2018 as the Hyper-A, 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) and be capable of runway landings.TA-1 flew its first captive carry with live propellant onboard in December 2023. In March 2024 Stratolaunch announced completion of the first powered flight of TA-1, including a controlled ocean disposal. Future iterations of Talon-A will be testbeds carrying customizable payloads at speeds above Mach 5 with the capability for runway landings. Reuse would enable lower-cost access to sub-thermosphere hypersonic environments.

Stratolaunch LLC is an American aerospace company providing high-speed flight test services. It was originally formed in 2011 to develop a new air-launched space transportation system, with its corporate headquarters located in Seattle. 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. Stratolaunch’s mission is to advance high-speed technology through innovative design, manufacturing, and operation of world-class aerospace vehicles.

Stratolaunch Celebrates First Powered Flight of TA-1 Test Vehicle
Stratolaunch’s Roc air launch platform takes off from Mojave Air and Space Port at Rutan Field on March 9, 2024. This was the fourteenth flight for the aircraft, and the second in which it launched a Talon vehicle from its center-wing pylon. (Photo by Stratolaunch)

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