Stratolaunch continues the testing that will lead to the launch of the Talon-A hypersonic vehicle which are used for different types of experiments. The system uses a large twin-body aircraft called Roc with a wingspan of over 117 meters, which can fly thanks to six engines derived from the Boeing 747 Talon A at high altitude, allowing safe release to begin the mission at high speed.
At the moment Talon A It hasn’t actually flown yet, but the tests appear to be positive and the company is also looking to expand and diversify its operations to capture further margins and meet customer requests (from private companies to government agencies). The payload can be placed in the cargo hold in various configurations and with various sensors available. The system ensures the reusability and recovery of experiments by engineers and technicians to have the data available as quickly as possible.
Stratolaunch, the new tests and the new aircraft
In the last days Stratolaunch He has completed a test with the prototype device from Talon A known as TA-1. Overall, it was the twelfth flight for Roc, but the first in which the Hypersonic vehicle loaded with fuel as if it were in a ready-to-launch configuration. The flight lasted a total of 3 hours and 22 minutes. Zachary Krevor (CEO of Stratolaunch) said “First results from today’s flight [ndr. avvenuto il 3 dicembre] demonstrate that the system is working as intended and we will determine our next steps until the test data is fully verified.”.
According to the company, they were two The Main goals. The first to understand how the liquid fuel rocket propulsion system behaved Talon A with fuel loaded, while the second purpose was to check the telemetry of Roc and TA-1 to ensure that the systems are ready to fly and the launch sequence can be carried out correctly. In the past Stratolaunch had already conducted ground tests of switching the propulsion system on and off, but the flight conditions are different and separate tests had to be carried out.
In addition to TA-1, TA-2 and TA-3 are also under construction and will also be the first Hypersonic vehicles of the company can be effectively reused. In the meantime Stratolaunch has also entered into agreements with the company Leidos, which in turn is a US Navy contractor for the MACH-TB (Multiservice Advanced Capability Test Bed) program.
Another novelty is the addition of the aircraft to the company’s fleet The Spirit of Mojave. This is the modified 747 formerly known as Cosmic Girl and part of the Virgin Orbit company (which filed for bankruptcy in recent months, not to be confused with Virgin Galactic). Second what was reported out of Stratolaunch the plane, still marked by the old one Code N744VG but with the new paint it will be grounded for some modifications for some time. The first operational mission is expected to take place in the first half of 2024.