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Tue, Jan 18, 2022

Stratolaunch Completes 3rd Test Flight

Hypersonic Launch Vehicle On Track for Customer Flights in 2023

Stratolaunch LLC has seen the third successful Roc carrier aircraft test flight, finally taking the prototype above and beyond all previous records to an altitude of 23,500 feet at 180 knots. The flight has further proven the aircraft ahead of future testing for its hypersonic testbed vehicle, the Talon-A.

The Roc is currently the largest flying aircraft in the world, boasting a 385-foot wingspan, originally conceived in the same vein as Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo carrier craft. A program pivot away from orbital payload delivery towards hypersonic research has brought the company into a niche of its own. The Talon-A vehicle, the core of the project, is a rocket-powered, autonomous, reusable testbed for payload carriage beyond Mach 5. Currently 2 examples are in their initial test phases, TA-0 and TA-1, expected to begin hypersonic flight testing later this year with customer flights sometime in 2023. 

If their outlook is correct, Stratolaunch could quickly become the only outfit around capable of providing a hypersonic flight test environment in the world, which the company says is "critical for scientific research, technological development, and component demonstration."

Stratolaunch believes sufficient interest from military and commercial customers is there for the taking, especially in a climate wary of peer research into hypersonic ballistic systems. Reusable, affordable test platforms to assess the basic foundations of future designs could save significant development time and funding for programs looking to minimize costly traditional rocket launches.

“Today’s successful flight demonstrates and validates improvements to the carrier aircraft’s systems and overall flight performance,” said Dr. Zachary Krevor, Stratolaunch President and Chief Operating Officer. “We will take the data we gathered today and continue to advance the aircraft’s operational performance to support hypersonic testing in 2022.”

FMI: www.stratolaunch.com

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