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Capitalism in space: Stratolaunch yesterday released the first pictures of its first Talon-A test vehicle, dubbed TA-0, to be used to test in-flight the pylon on the company’s giant Roc airplane that the Talon-A will be attached to.
The photo to the right, reduced, enhanced, and annotated to post here, shows the test vehicle attached to the pylon which hangs from the bottom of Roc’s wing. From the press release:
The pylon, which was introduced during Roc’s fifth test flight on May 4, will be used to carry and release Talon-A hypersonic vehicles. The hardware is comprised of a mini-wing and adapter that is constructed with aluminum and carbon fiber skins. It weighs approximately 8,000 pounds and occupies 14 feet of Roc’s 95-foot center wingspan, allowing for adequate space between the aircraft’s dual fuselages for safe vehicle release and launch. The custom structure also features a winch system that will load Talon-A vehicles onto the platform from the ground, expediting launch preparation and reducing the need for ground support.
Although this first version of Talon-A will not be powered in flight, its future iterations will be rocket-powered, autonomous, reusable testbeds carrying customizable payloads at speeds above Mach 5. TA-0 will continue functional and integration testing in the coming months, culminating in a captive carry and vehicle flight later this year. After completing TA-0 separation testing, the company will transition to flying its first hypersonic test vehicle, TA-1. The team has also started fabrication of a third vehicle, TA-2, the first fully reusable hypersonic test vehicle.
The development and initial testing of Talon-A is partly funded from a contract with the Air Force. If successful, the Air Force will likely move on to purchasing actual hypersonic test flights.
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