Talon-A vechicle. Credits: Stratolaunch

Stratolaunch Announces The First Powered Flight Of TA-1

Stratolaunch performed the first powered flight of its Talon unmanned vehicle, an autonomous, reusable testbed designed to revolutionize supersonic flight

On March 9, 2024, the Stratolaunch company successfully performed the first powered flight of its Talon vehicle, reaching supersonic speeds during the unmanned test. The Talon-A (TA-1) took off attached to the aircraft, named Scaled Composites Model 351 (or Roc) at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California at 10:17 am local time. After flying westward to a position in the Pacific off the central coast of California, TA-1 was released, and then the Roc vehicle returned to base more than 4 hours after takeoff.

Aaron Cassebeer, senior vice president, explained that TA-1 completed its primary test objectives. Indeed the main goal of the flight test was not only a secure air-launch release of the TA-1 vehicle with a successful engine ignition but also achieving a proper acceleration path, maintaining a continuous climb in altitude, and executing a controlled landing on water.

The company executives explained at a press conference that they could not temporarily disclose sensitive data including TA-1’s maximum speed or altitude during its flight due to proprietary agreements with unspecified customers.

“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”.

— Explained Dr. Zachary Krevor, President and CEO of Stratolaunch


Talon A

Talon-A is more than just a new tech in the new frontier of ultra-fast vehicles; it’s an autonomous, reusable testbed designed to revolutionize supersonic flight. One of the most important features is the capability to fly at high Mach speeds across a range of altitudes and different flight profiles. This means reliable access to the real hypersonic environment, which is critical in advancing aerospace technologies.

Talon-A vechicle. Credits: Stratolaunch
Talon-A vechicle. Credits: Stratolaunch

Moreover, the Talon-A vehicle is versatile, as it is possible to customize payload volumes and instrumentation, tailoring each mission to specific needs and objectives.

While conducting tests on TA-1, the Company is advancing the manufacture of TA-3, the second fully reusable vehicle within the Talon-A product line. Additionally, the company has initiated the revision and variation process on its supplementary launch platform named the Spirit of Mojave, a customized Boeing 747 – 400.

Stratolaunch “Spirit of Mojave” aircraft, a customized Boeing 747-400. Credits: Stratolaunch
“Spirit of Mojave” aircraft, a customized Boeing 747-400. Credits: Stratolaunch

In the meantime, the company has also entered into agreements with Leidos, a contractor for the United States Navy, for the program known as MACH-TB (Multiservice Advanced Capability Test Bed).


The Company

More than a decade ago, Stratolaunch was founded by Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, with the initial goal of providing air launch services. However, after Allen’s passing in 2018, the company slightly changed direction. It was later sold to a private equity firm, Cerebus, in 2020.

Scaled Composites Model 351 Stratolaunch (Roc). Credits: Stratolaunch
Scaled Composites Model 351 (Roc). Credits: Stratolaunch

The company announced a new strategy focused on the development of hypersonic vehicles to be launched by Roc, whose current model is called Scaled Composites Model 351 Stratolaunch, powered by 6 Pratt & Whitney PW4056 turbofan, with 56,750 lbs (252.4 kN) thrust each.


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Beatrice Romeo

Beatrice Romeo

Master student in Aerospace Engineering.
Ocean activist and kitesurfing athlete.

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