It's quite the year for the world's largest planes. Stratolaunch, the company behind the world's largest plane, has shared its plans for hypersonic flight testing through its hypersonic vehicle, which is able to offer fast testing of advanced flight technologies to the company's customers.
Called the Talon A, the hypersonic vehicle is designed to be reusable, fitted out with different payloads, and offer rapid testing of hypersonic flight technologies for a number of uses.
What is the Talon A capable of?
The Talon A measures 8.5 meters (38 feet) in length, has a 3.4 meter (11.3 foot) wingspan, and weighs 2,722 kg (6,000 pounds). Able to reach speeds over six times the speed of sound, of up to Mach 6 on long-duration flights, the Talon A can take off and land autonomously from a conventional runway, and can also be launched out of Stratolaunch's largest carrier plane, at 10,000 meters (35,000 feet) — cruising altitude.
The carrier aircraft, which only saw the light of day last year, is designed to be able to accommodate three Talon A's and release them once it's up in the air. The huge carrier airplane is designed to launch rockets and satellites into low-Earth orbit.
In terms of the Talon A's capabilities, once in the air, it's able to collect data about aerodynamic performance. Moreover, its layout of instruments and sensors are customizable depending on the customer's needs. Its payloads can be proprietary and classifiable, which are then safely recovered for analysis after the flight.
"Our hypersonic testbeds will serve as a catalyst in sparking a renaissance in hypersonic technologies for our government, the commercial sector, and academia," said W. Jean Floyd, Stratolaunch's CEO, on the company's website.
The company is also developing the Talon Z, and another vehicle called Black Ice. If all goes to Stratolaunch's plan, these two hypersonic vehicles could wind up flying some fascinating flights and missions.