Stratolaunch Completes Vital Test of Launch System for Hypersonic Vehicles

A successful separation test clears the way for a move toward hypersonic flight.

Stratolaunch successfully releases the TA-0 test vehicle. [Courtesy: Stratolaunch]

Aerospace company Stratolaunch LLC said it completed a test flight during which its Talon-A test vehicle, called TA-0, successfully separated from its Roc flying launch platform.

The flight, which took place over the Vandenberg Space Force Base's western range off the central coast of California, was the 11th test sortie for Roc and the second time the group has carried out flight operations at Vandenberg.

Stratolaunch said the flight lasted four hours and eight minutes and showed the Talon-A system “can cleanly and safely separate hypersonic vehicles from Roc's center-wing pylon.” The test also confirmed communications between the test vehicles and the ground were working properly for data collection during planned hypersonic flights.

"Today's test was exceptional," said Dr. Zachary Krevor, Stratolaunch president and CEO. "It was exhilarating to see TA-0 release safely away from Roc, and I commend our team and partners. Our hardware and data collection systems performed as anticipated, and we now stand at the precipice of achieving hypersonic flight."

With this test complete, according to Stratolaunch, its team will move toward its next major goal of achieving hypersonic flight with the TA-1 expendable testbed vehicle, progressing toward its first hypersonic flight of the TA-1 late this summer.

Jonathan Welsh is a private pilot who worked as a reporter, editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal for 21 years, mostly covering the auto industry. His passion for aviation began in childhood with balsa-wood gliders his aunt would buy for him at the corner store. Follow Jonathan on Twitter @JonathanWelsh4

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