Artist’s impression of the small Talon-A hypersonic aircraft. © Stratolaunch

Acquired in October 2019, the company offers a future for the Roc, its giant plane.

On the program, a family of two hypersonic aircraft, and even a futuristic shuttle with orbital capabilities.

A little bit off

Now that we know that the flight test program for the Stratolaunch aircraft (the Roc) is due to resume in the second half of the year, it became interesting to know what the Mojave-based company was planning to fly. It’s done on March 30 with, not one, but three new vehicles designed to be transported at an altitude of more than 10,000 m, under the central part of the gigantic wing of the Roc (which has the largest wingspan in the world) before being jettisoned and igniting their own engines.

Indeed, Stratolaunch initially intends to market hypersonic drone flights to “ US government, business and academic research “. Before aiming higher…

Talon-A squadron

Meet the A-Heels! © Stratolaunch

Master and Talon

The first vehicle, automated, is called Talon-A, and will be the smallest of the family with 8.5 meters long, 3.4 meters wide, and 2.7 tons on the scale. Stratolaunch announces for the moment that it will be able to ignite its rocket engine for a little over a minute in order to reach Mach 6 (7,400 km/h). Talon-A will be equipped with multiple internal and external sensors that customers will be able to consult while ordering flights, but also small spaces to place payloads (antennas, sensors, scientific instruments).

Still according to the company, the smallest drone in the family will be able to fly in a squadron, because three models of this type can be worn under the wing of the Roc. A second hypersonic vehicle, visibly larger and named Talon-Z, has also been unveiled, although we do not know its future technical characteristics.

Black Ice

Artist’s impression of the Black Ice vehicle. Note the portholes… © Stratolaunch

Tempting prospects

The third and final vehicle is nothing less than a space shuttle. Named Black Ice, it will above all be developed in an automated version, and should be able to reach low orbit with its engines, in order to drop payloads or even an upper stage from its hold. Finally, and even if this announcement is very futuristic, a manned version is already in the company’s plans.

If the 3D visuals are in tune with the times, and the plane with the largest wingspan in the world is already a reality, we must however be careful and arm ourselves with patience to see this project succeed. On the one hand, the Roc must be granted permission to fly regularly, and Stratolaunch must prove that their flying monster can complete its test campaign.

Then there is the question of the motorization of these small hypersonic planes, as well as their design… And finally, their flight range. The very high speeds in the atmosphere are part of the known limits of physics, and are currently mastered by only a handful of military prototypes and space projects. The Stratolaunch range is therefore as interesting as it is ambitious.

Source : stratolaunch

Talon-A, Talon-Z and Black Ice: discover Stratolaunch’s futuristic hypersonic aircraft