Stratolaunch hypersonic aircraft blasts off from mothership in new test: video

Stratolaunch TA-1 test flight
Ursa Major/Stratolaunch

In Stratolaunch’s latest flight trial its Talon-A test vehicle, TA-1, successfully separated from the mothership, Roc, mid-air before accelerating away.  

Announcing the accomplishment on March 9, 2024, the aerospace company, Stratolaunch, described the test as a “major milestone”. 

The monumental test involved the TA-1 vehicle’s release, ignition, acceleration, sustained climb in altitude, and a controlled water landing.   

“Today was a great day for the Stratolaunch team. 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,” Dr Zachary Krevor, President and CEO of Stratolaunch, said. 

While Stratolaunch was unable to confirm the exact speed the aircraft reached due to “proprietary agreements” the company’s CEO said that TA-1 reached “high supersonic speeds approaching Mach 5”. 

“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,” Krevor added. 

In addition to meeting all primary and customer objectives, Stratolaunch was able to capture a significant amount of data that will help with future test flights.  

The flight test also marks a major milestone for Ursa Major, who designed and built the engine used on TA-1.

“For the first time since SpaceX fundamentally transformed space launch with privately developed rockets, Ursa Major and Stratolaunch have come together to advance a critical national mission,” Ursa Major founder and CEO Joe Laurienti, said. “Hypersonic flight has been a massive military and governmental challenge. Today, private companies were able to propel a leap forward.”

Concurrent to TA-1 testing, Stratolaunch is progressing on the manufacturing of TA-3, the second fully reusable vehicle in that Talon-A product line.  

The company is also beginning modifications to its additional launch platform, the Spirit of Mojave, a modified Boeing 747-400.     

According to NASA, for “speeds greater than five times the speed of sound, Mach 5, the flow is said to be hypersonic”. 

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