Supersonic and hypersonic aircraft are slowly but surely coming back to the forefront of aviation. NASA is in the last development stages of its supersonic research aircraft, X-59, and Stratolaunch is getting ready to operate its first hypersonic test vehicle, the Talon-A.
Stratolaunch on September 27, 2021 announced an important milestone for its Talon-A hypersonic test vehicles. The company successfully completed its Critical Design Review (“CDR”), a multidisciplinary technical review that ensure(s) systems meet specified performance requirements.
This achievement is in line with Stratolaunch’s timeline to begin hypersonic flight testing in 2022 and deliver services to government and commercial customers by 2023. Launched from Stratolaunch’s Roc carrier aircraft, the Talon-A vehicles are rocket-propelled, autonomous, reusable testbeds carrying customizable payloads at speeds above Mach 5. This capability enables routine access to the hypersonic flight environment, which is critical for scientific research, technological development, and component demonstration.
“The progress we’ve made is phenomenal,” said Brandon Wood, Hypersonics Program Director. “We have a world-class engineering team, and this successful CDR is a demonstration of their talent. Our Talon-A design and revolutionary launch capability can transform the hypersonic field and make testing dramatically more accessible and effective.”
In parallel with the technical review, Stratolaunch has implemented a rapid-prototyping approach for its Talon-A vehicles. The initial airframe assembly process has been completed and the subsystems installation has begun in anticipation of functional testing in early 2022.
A key differentiator for Stratolaunch’s approach is its mobile, multi-vehicle carrier aircraft, the Roc. The world’s largest plane is a revolutionary launch platform for hypersonic vehicles and (is) critical to eliminating technical and logistical barriers that prevent routine hypersonic testing. Stratolaunch has successfully completed two test flights and plans on completing additional flight tests in the coming months. Following the test flights, the Company will focus on pylon installation for the Talon-A vehicles, while continuing to expand the flight envelope of the Roc carrier aircraft.
Stratolaunch’s mission is to advance high-speed technology through innovative design, manufacturing, and operation of world-class aerospace vehicles. download .pdf here