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Stratolaunch Reveals First Talon-A Vehicle Set to Be Carried by Massive Aircraft Roc

Stratolaunch has unveiled its first Talon-A test vehicle, called TA-0. In the upcoming months, the vehicle will be used to validate the release system on the company's massive carrier aircraft Roc. Once testing of TA-0 is completed, Roc will begin flying TA-1, its first hypersonic test vehicle.
Stratolaunch debuts first Talon-A vehicle 6 photos
TA-0 mated to Roc carrier aircraftIllustration of Talon-A vehicleIllustration of Talon-A vehicle in flightIllustration of Talon-A vehicleIllustration of Talon-A vehicle
The Talon-A is a flexible vehicle built to fly for extended periods of time at high Mach and then glide back for an autonomous landing on a standard runway. The vehicles were designed to measure 28 ft (8.5 meters) in length and have a wingspan of 11.3 ft (3.4 meters). However, they are still tiny compared to the massive airplane Roc, which has a wingspan of 385 ft (117 meters).

Roc's large payload capacity allows it to carry multiple Talon-A vehicles on a single flight. With the current pylon configuration, up to three such vehicles can be carried and launched. The new pylon was recently tested during the carrier's fifth test flight.

The hardware takes up 14 ft (4.2 meters) of the Roc's center wingspan, leaving enough room between the plane's fuselages for a safe launch. The structure also comes with a winch system that allows the Talon-A to be loaded onto the platform from the ground, speeding up launch preparation.

According to Stratolaunch, the first version of Talon-A will not be powered in flight. During the next few months, TA-0 will undergo several tests that will validate its capabilities. Ultimately, the vehicle will be carried by Roc later this year. Other Talon-A that will follow will be rocket-powered and will be able to carry various payloads at speeds that exceed Mach 5.

"We're proud to reveal our first test vehicle to the public and our key stakeholders. TA-0 represents the immense progress our company has made toward hypersonic flight in a short period of time," said Dr. Zachary Krevor, Chief Executive Officer and President at Stratolaunch.

Following the completion of TA-0 separation testing, the company will begin flying its first hypersonic test vehicle, TA-1. The team has already started work on a third vehicle, the TA-2, which will be the first fully reusable hypersonic test vehicle. The Talon-A vehicles are expected to be operational next year, allowing operators to utilize them for hypersonic research, tests, and other missions.

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