Stratolaunch obtains contract with U.S. AFRL

Will support hypersonic flight testing for U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).

Stratolaunch's Roc carrier aircraft landing during its third test flight on Jan. 16, 2022.
Stratolaunch

Stratolaunch LLC has a research contract with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).

Under partnership with Booz Allen Hamilton, Stratolaunch is on contract with AFRL to examine and assess the feasibility of hypersonic flight tests of a wide range of Air Force experiments and payloads on a frequent and routine basis.

Stratolaunch supports national security objectives for hypersonic offensive and defensive weapons development through the design, manufacture, and operation of a fleet of reusable hypersonic aerospace vehicles air-launched from its globally deployable carrier aircraft, Roc. Roc is the world's largest aircraft by wingspan, standing at 385ft. It will be used to air-launch the Stratolaunch's Talon hypersonic test vehicles.

The company plans to augment existing Department of Defense (DOD) flight test resources through affordable, commercially contracted, rapid-turnaround hypersonic flight testing for the DOD and its prime contractor partners.

"Our goal is to provide affordable and routine access to the hypersonic flight environment," said Dr. Daniel Millman, chief technology officer for Stratolaunch. "We look forward to sharing lessons learned from this collaboration with AFRL, yielding powerful and practical research results benefiting the nation."

Stratolaunch completed its third Roc carrier aircraft test flight on Jan. 16, 2022, lasting 4 hours, 23 minutes over the Mojave Desert. It reached an altitude of 23,500ft (7162.8m) at an indicated air speed of 180kts. This flight further prepared the carrier aircraft to support launches of its upcoming hypersonic testbed vehicle, Talon-A. Launched from the Roc carrier aircraft, Talon-A vehicles are rocket-powered, autonomous, reusable testbeds carrying customizable payloads at speeds above Mach 5. This capability enables routine access to the hypersonic flight environment, which is critical for scientific research, technological development, and component demonstration.

Talon-A test vehicle TA-1 completed its initial power-on testing in late December 2021, keeping the company on track to begin hypersonic flight testing in 2022 and to deliver services to government and commercial customers in 2023.

In December 2021, Stratolaunch officials announced a feasibility study contract with the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to examine and assess the applicability of a re-usable hypersonic testbed system for Missile Defense Systems (MDS) applications.

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