Stratolaunch Nabs Navy-Backed Contract for 5 Hypersonic Flight Tests

The award pays for Talon-A hypersonic flights and optional payloads for the Navy’s Multiservice Advanced Capability Test Bed (MACH-TB).

The team prepares Talon-A 1 (TA-1) for its first taxi test with live propellant aboard the vehicle on November 21. [Credit: Stratolaunch/Matt Hartman]

Stratolaunch announced it has been awarded a contract for five hypersonic flight tests for the U.S. Navy's Multiservice Advanced Capability Test Bed (MACH-TB).

The contract was awarded by MACH-TB prime contractor Leidos and was funded by the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC), Crane Division, Stratolaunch said.

The deal is the latest military contract for the company behind the aircraft with the world’s largest wingspan. In October, it announced it had entered into a contract with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory to support the first test flight of Stratolaunch’s reusable Talon-A hypersonic test vehicle.

Under the terms of the agreement, the reusable Talon-A hypersonic vehicle will be used to advance development of the MACH-TB program, which focuses on increasing the speed of testing for commercially available hypersonic systems.

"The data collected is designed to provide insight to the DOD on technology improvement and capability validation," Stratolaunch said Tuesday in a statement. "Early, affordable, and regular hypersonic flight testing is key to robust and successful developments of hypersonic capabilities."

In June, Leidos conducted an inaugural MACH-TB test launch from Rocket Lab's launch site at Virginia's Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) within NASA's Wallops Flight Facility.

"Leidos is delighted to have Stratolaunch join the team that’s working to provide fast and affordable hypersonic flight test capabilities to the nation," said Andy Crocker, Leidos program manager for MACH-TB. "Using air launch and the Talon-A reusable vehicle offers unique opportunities to advance the maturity of hypersonic technologies."

Kimberly is managing editor of FLYING Digital.

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