Stratolaunch LLC, a spaceflight company founded by the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, has successfully completed a separation release test of its Talon-A separation test vehicle, TA-0. The test flight was the eleventh launch for the company’s launch platform Roc and the second time the team has conducted flight operations in Vandenberg Space Force Base’s Western Range off California’s central coast.
The Talon-A separation test vehicle is a reusable hypersonic flight vehicle designed for operational efficiency and rapid reusability. It is designed to help the company test and develop key technologies for high-speed vehicles and provide affordable access to space.
The test flight was carried out on April 30, 2023, and involved releasing the Talon-A vehicle from the Roc launch platform at an altitude of approximately 35,000 feet. The vehicle then glided back to Earth, reaching a speed of Mach 3. During the flight, the team collected data on the vehicle’s performance, including its flight characteristics, guidance, navigation, and control systems.
According to Stratolaunch, the successful separation test marks a significant milestone in the company’s efforts to develop a range of hypersonic vehicles for both government and commercial customers. The company is now planning further flight tests of the Talon-A vehicle, including tests of its propulsion and maneuvering systems.
Stratolaunch’s Roc launch platform is the largest aircraft in the world, with a wingspan of 385 feet and a maximum takeoff weight of 1.3 million pounds. It is designed to carry multiple launch vehicles, including rockets and spaceplanes, to high-altitude launch points, where they can be released for orbital or suborbital missions.
The company’s goal is to provide an affordable and flexible launch system that can support a wide range of missions, including satellite deployment, scientific research, and even human spaceflight. Stratolaunch believes that hypersonic vehicles like the Talon-A will play a critical role in achieving this goal, by providing faster and more efficient access to space.
The recent successful test flight of the Talon-A vehicle is a significant step forward for Stratolaunch and its ambitious plans to revolutionize the space industry. With its unique launch platform and innovative hypersonic technology, the company is well-positioned to make a major impact in the years to come.