stratolaunch is developing a reusable hypersonic vehicle designed to be launched from the company’s giant aircraft. the company, which microsoft co-founder paul allen established in 2011, originally planned to launch satellites using the aircraft, which has a wingspan of 385 feet (117 meters).


stratolaunch said it is pursuing development of a vehicle called talon-A. the vehicle is powered by a liquid-propellant rocket engine, and will launch from the company’s aircraft flying to speeds of at least five times the speed of sound, otherwise known as mach 5.

stratolaunch to launch hypersonic vehicles from world's biggest airplane




‘the stratolaunch talon-A is a flexible, high-speed testbed built for offensive hypersonics, hypersonic defense and hypersonic R&D,’ the company said in a fact sheet about the program.


the reusable talon-a measures 28 feet long, with a wingspan of 11.3 feet and a launch weight of roughly 6,000 pounds. three of the vehicle can fit into the aircraft at any one time.

stratolaunch to launch hypersonic vehicles from world's biggest airplane



the talon-a ‘will conduct long-duration flight at high mach, and glide back for an autonomous, horizontal landing on a conventional runway,’ stratolaunch’s description of the craft states. ‘it will also be capable of autonomous takeoff, under its own power, via a conventional runway.’


our hypersonic testbeds will serve as a catalyst in sparking a renaissance in hypersonic technologies for our government, the commercial sector and academia,’ jean floyd, chief executive of stratolaunch, said in a statement on the company’s updated website.

stratolaunch to launch hypersonic vehicles from world's biggest airplane

the stratolaunch, world’s largest aircraft



in addition to talon-A, stratolaunch is developing a spaceplane called black ice, ‘a fully reusable space plane that enables advanced on-orbit capabilities and cargo return.’ initial designs are optimized for cargo launch, with a follow-on variant capable of transporting crew.


all of this depends on the stratolaunch aircraft which at present, has has enough funding to support talon-A’s development at least through an upcoming hypersonic flight test. the company’s timeline calls for the reusable talon-A test vehicle as well as its twin-fuselage, 385-foot-wide carrier plane to go into operation in 2022.