The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has announced its support for Stratolaunch’s hypersonic test vehicle flight test, expected to take place early next year.

Launched from the Roc aircraft, the rocket-powered Talon-A test bed carries a range of customizable payloads flying at over Mach 5, enabling a hypersonic flight environment for “scientific research, technological development, and component demonstration.”

The Seattle-based aerospace firm completed the test vehicle’s critical design review in September 2021 and conducted its first captive flight test on October 28. 

Hypersonic Captive Flight Test

The over five-hour flight at 23,000 feet (7,000 meters) tested the aircraft’s release system and measured the “aerodynamic loads on the Talon-A vehicle while mated to Roc,” the company stated.

“The loads captured in flight will validate aerodynamic predictions to ensure the release mechanism will function as designed.”

The first Talon-A configuration is expendable. However, the next generation will be reusable.

Service Delivery Expected by 2023

Stratolaunch expects to begin delivering hypersonic flight services to government and commercial customers in 2023.

“We’re pleased that AFRL has chosen to support the flight of our first hypersonic vehicle, and we have enjoyed working with the esteemed team,” Stratolaunch chief executive officer Zachary Krevor said.

“We look forward to providing flight test services to AFRL and other customers in the near future.” 


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