Stratolaunch TA-1 Hypersonic Test Vehicle Completes First Powered Flight

The company said the test craft, part of its Talon-A product line, reached supersonic speeds approaching Mach 5.

Stratolaunch’s Talon-A stands ready to be carried aloft on the Roc launch aircraft. [Courtesy: Stratolaunch]

Stratolaunch has completed the first powered flight of its TA-1 test vehicle, marking what the company called a “major milestone in the development of the country's first privately funded, reusable hypersonic test capability.” 

Stratolaunch said the main objectives of the test on March 9 included the basic phases of the TA-1’s flight, such as a safe release from the Roc air-launch aircraft, followed by engine ignition, acceleration, and sustained climb in altitude. The flight concluded with a controlled water landing. 

“[It] was a great day for the Stratolaunch team,” said Zachary Krevor, president and CEO of Stratolaunch. “I am extremely proud of their perseverance to reach this point. The successful outcome of the test is a direct result of the team’s technical prowess and professionalism.” 

While the company said the flight met all of its objectives, it declined to share specific altitude and speed information from the test because of certain agreements with customers. Krevor revealed that the TA-1 “reached high supersonic speeds approaching Mach 5” and collected valuable data. The test took place at the Mojave Air & Space Port in Mojave, California.

“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,” Krevor said. “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."

As TA-1 testing continues, Stratolaunch is moving ahead with the manufacture of the TA-3, the second fully reusable vehicle in the Talon-A family. The company said it is also working on modifications to its additional launch platform, a Boeing 747-400 called the Spirit of Mojave.

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

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Get the latest FLYING stories delivered directly to your inbox

Subscribe to our newsletter