Stratolaunch LLC announced on Wednesday that it signed a research contract with the Missile Defense Agency.
The Mojave-based aerospace company will augment existing Department of Defense flight test resources through hypersonic flight testing for the Pentagon and its prime contractor partners, it said in a release.
“We’re excited to provide (the Missile Defense Agency) with a threat-representative and threat-replicating target that allows them to understand how to engage and intercept hypersonic threats,” said Daniel Millman, Chief Technology Officer of Stratolaunch, in a statement.
The Stratolaunch team has been building the first two Talon-A test vehicles – the TA-0 and TA-1.
The Talon-A is a vehicle that is a rocket-propelled, autonomous, reusable testbed carrying customizable payloads at speeds above Mach 5. It is launched from the Roc carrier aircraft, the largest airplane in the world with a wingspan of 385 feet. Northrop Grumman Corp.’s subsidiary Scaled Composites built the craft at the Stratolaunch hangar in Mojave.
The TA-1 will start its power-on testing by the end of year, keeping the company on track to begin hypersonic flight testing next year and to deliver services to government and commercial customers in 2023, it said in in its release.
Founded in 2011 by the late billionaire Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft Corp., Stratolaunch was sold by Allen’s investment firm Vulcan Inc. about a year after Allen died in 2018. The new owner was identified in media reports as Cerberus Capital Management, a private equity firm specializing in distressed companies.