Hypersonic vehicle designer and manufacturer Stratolaunch has announced the public debut of its structurally complete Talon-A test vehicle, TA-0.

The first Talon-A vehicle will be used to test and validate the release system of Stratolaunch’s aircraft carrier, Roc.

Aluminium and carbon fibre

Roc’s pylon, which was introduced during the aircraft’s fifth test flight on May 4, will be used to carry and release Talon-A hypersonic vehicles. The hardware consists of a mini-wing and adapter that is constructed with aluminium and carbon fibre skins.

It weighs approximately 8,000 pounds and occupies 14 feet of Roc’s 95-foot centre wingspan, allowing for adequate space between the aircraft’s dual fuselages for safe vehicle release and launch.

The custom structure also features a winch system that will load Talon-A vehicles onto the platform from the ground, expediting launch preparation and reducing the need for ground support.

Rocket-powered, autonomous, reusable testbeds

Although this first version of Talon-A will not be powered in flight, its future iterations will be rocket-powered, autonomous, reusable testbeds carrying customisable payloads at speeds above Mach 5.

TA-0 will continue functional and integration testing in the coming months, culminating in a captive carry and vehicle flight later this year.

After completing TA-0 separation testing, the company will transition to flying its first hypersonic test vehicle, TA-1. The team has also started fabrication of a third vehicle, TA-2, the first fully reusable hypersonic test vehicle.

The Talon-A testbed capability ultimately enables routine access to the hypersonic flight environment, which is critical for scientific research, technological development, and component demonstration.

‘Immense progress toward hypersonic flight’

“We’re proud to reveal our first test vehicle to the public and our key stakeholders. TA-0 represents the immense progress our company has made toward hypersonic flight in a short period of time,” said Dr. Zachary Krevor, Chief Executive Officer and President at Stratolaunch.

“Our pace of development parallels the nation’s critical need for hypersonic test capabilities, and we are putting forth every effort toward becoming a national test asset for our government and commercial customers in 2023.”

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