July 13, 2024

Stratolaunch Unveils Talon-A 2: Reusable Hypersonic Craft

Stratolaunch has introduced the Talon-A TA-2, a groundbreaking hypersonic vehicle designed for full recovery and reuse. The TA-2 is fully assembled and currently undergoing integrated systems tests, with its inaugural flight anticipated later this year.

Photo Source: https://x.com/

Following the recent maiden flight of the Talon-A TA-1 test vehicle, Stratolaunch has now released images of the assembled TA-2. Unlike its predecessor, the TA-2 is designed to land on a runway and be reused, marking a significant leap from the TA-1, which was a single-use craft that concluded its mission with a splashdown.

Stratolaunch aims to make hypersonic flight more routine and cost-effective by developing a reusable vehicle. Data from the TA-1’s first powered flight will be crucial in preparing for the TA-2’s inaugural flight.

Commenting on the progress, Dr. Zachary Krevor, President and CEO of Stratolaunch, stated, “Our goal with this flight was to continue our risk reduction approach for TA-2’s first reusable flight and be steadfast on our commitment of delivering maximum value to our customers. We are excited to review the data from today’s test and use it as we plan our next steps toward TA-2’s first flight later this year.”

The TA-2, the third airframe constructed, features landing gear for recovery and landing at Vandenberg Space Force Base after each mission. Meanwhile, another vehicle, TA-3, is being assembled with U.S. Air Force funding supporting its manufacture and at least one test flight.

On March 9, 2024, the first powered flight of the Talon-A test vehicle, TA-1, was successfully completed by Stratolaunch. Released from the Roc, the world’s largest wingspan aircraft, the Talon-A achieved several key objectives including safe air-launch release, engine ignition, acceleration, sustained climb, and a controlled water landing. Although details on the recovery of TA-1’s remains were not provided, the flight yielded valuable data.

Photo Source: https://www.stratolaunch.com/

Approaching Mach 5, high supersonic speeds were reached by TA-1, though not hypersonic. Specific altitude and speed details weren’t shared due to proprietary agreements, as noted by Dr. Krevor. TA-1 successfully met primary and customer objectives, collecting valuable data for customers.

The unmanned Talon-A has a payload capacity of up to 1,000 pounds, with the Roc able to deploy three Talon-As in a single flight. Powered by the Ursa Major Hadley rocket engine, the Talon-A generates a thrust of 22 kilonewtons (5,000 lbf) using kerosene and liquid oxygen.

Stratolaunch is repurposing a Boeing 747-400, previously utilized by Virgin Orbit, into a new launch platform named “Spirit of Mojave.” This aircraft, now with a new livery, offers a more compact and versatile option than the Roc, allowing launches from various locations with minimal ground support. It also features a mobile control center for real-time mission operations.

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