This successful test flight is getting Roc one step closer to launching Stratolaunch's rocket-powered Talon-A, which are reusable vehicles designed by the company for "hypersonic research, experiments, and operational missions." Once operational, the vehicles will be able to carry various payloads and fly at speeds higher than Mach 5.
The recent test flight saw Roc take off with a new pylon fitted on its center wing. The hardware, which will be used to carry and release the hypersonic vehicles, weighs around 8,000 lbs (3,629 kg) and consists of a mini-wing and adapter.
The pylon takes up 14 feet (4,2 meters) of the aircraft's center wingspan. But Roc is massive, so there's enough room between fuselages to safely deploy the hypersonic testbeds. Apart from carrying and releasing them, the hardware includes a system that will lift the vehicles onto the platform from the ground.
"The pylon is a crucial component of our combined launch system, and I am proud of the team's timely and quality integration work that occurred since our last test flight. It is through their dedication that we continue to make steady progress toward achieving our next milestones of Talon-A flight tests later this year,"?said Dr. Zachary Krevor, Stratolaunch President and Chief Operating Officer, in a statement.
During the flight, the team not only assessed the newly-installed pylon but also verified the aircraft's overall performance and its landing gear.
Stratolaunch has made significant progress with two Talon-A test vehicles, called TA-0 and TA-1, and began to work on TA-2 as well, which is set to be the first fully reusable hypersonic test vehicle. The company expects Talon-A vehicles to be fully operational next year.
The force is strong in this plane. Roc has successfully landed back at Mojave Air and Space Port and our team is already busy analyzing the data gathered today. #Maythe4thBeWithYou #LetsRoc pic.twitter.com/XK7jz6SEET— Stratolaunch (@Stratolaunch) May 4, 2022