Stratolaunch has signed a contract with the US 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 customised 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.

Stratolaunch flight tests

“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,” said Dr Zachary Krevor, chief executive officer for Stratolaunch.

“We look forward to increasing the cadence of our flight test services for our customers in the near future.”

In May, Stratolaunch announced that it had received approval from the US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware to acquire Virgin Orbit’s modified Boeing 747 and its related parts and equipment, marking an expansion of Stratolaunch’s air-launch fleet.

The additional aircraft will be repurposed as a launch platform for Stratolaunch’s Talon-A reusable hypersonic testbeds and is expected to be fully operational in 2024.

The expansion of Stratolaunch’s fleet will increase its in-flight test capacity and ability to support government and commercial customers globally.
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