World’s largest aircraft will help the military test new generations of hypersonic missiles and aircraft

April 13, 2020
Stratolaunch will use its 117-meter-wide aircraft to provide routine access to the hypersonic environment for proprietary and classified payloads.

SEATTLE – Nearly a decade ago, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen founded Stratolaunch to build the largest aircraft capable of launching orbital rockets. ARS Technica reports. Continue reading original article

The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:

13 April 2020 -- Alas, the aircraft never did prove to be an effective launcher. In fact, what became the world's largest airplane took flight just one time, in April, 2019. The Stratolaunch plane reached speeds above 189 miles per hour and heights of 17,000 feet during its 2.5-hour test flight before landing safely at the Mojave Air and Space Port.

But the plane has been grounded since. And last summer, less than a year after Allen died in October, 2018, Stratolaunch effectively ceased operations. In recent months, however, the company has been rehiring employees, and this week it officially unveiled a new business plan—building and operating hypersonic test beds.

To facilitate this, the company released preliminary designs for "Talon-A," a reusable vehicle capable of reaching Mach 6. (Hypersonic flight is generally defined as speeds above Mach 5 through the atmosphere.) The company says its 8.5-meter-long Talon-A vehicle is a "flexible, high-speed testbed built for hypersonic research, experiments, and enabling operational missions." It is not clear when the Talon-A will be ready for flight.

Related: Extreme Environment Sensors project seeks flight control instruments for hypersonic aircraft and missiles

Related: Navy lets contract to develop hypersonic weapons testing facilities in China Lake, Calif., and Crane, Ind.

Related: Lockheed Martin moves forward with hypersonic weapon in Air Force contract worth nearly a billion dollars

John Keller, chief editor
Military & Aerospace Electronics

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