Stratolaunch, the maker of the world’s largest plane that serves as a launchpad for hypersonic and aerospace vehicles, announced it has been awarded a US Missile Defense Agency research support contract.
The company said it will be responsible for augmenting Pentagon’s existing flight test resources through commercially contracted hypersonic flight testing for the Department of Defense and its prime contractor partners.
More specifically, Stratolaunch will supply hypersonic threat-representative targets that will allow MDA to test ways of counteracting such threats.
“We’re excited to provide MDA with a threat-representative and threat-replicating target that allows them to understand how to engage and intercept hypersonic threats,” said Dr. Daniel Millman, Chief Technology Officer of Stratolaunch.
Stratolaunch added it is preparing to complete its next set of Roc carrier aircraft test flights, while also continuing to make progress in building its first two Talon-A test vehicles: TA-0 and TA-1.
Launched from Stratolaunch’s Roc carrier aircraft, the Talon-A vehicles are rocket-powered, autonomous, reusable testbeds carrying customized payloads.
These reusable test vehicles are capable of achieving Mach 6 speeds and offer the ability to collect hypersonic flight data. According to the company, the Talon-A provides previously unobtainable measurement access to the hypersonic flight environment on a recurring basis.
TA-1 will start its power-on testing by the end of year, keeping the company on track to begin hypersonic flight testing in 2022 and to deliver services to government and commercial customers in 2023.