In 2020, we first heard about the Talon-A hypersonic aircraft, which will be launched from the world’s largest aircraft at an altitude of 10,000 m. And so the company Stratolaunch introduced a test version of the Talon-A, called TA-0.
With two side-by-side fuselages, six Boeing 747 engines, 28 wheels and 117 m long wings, the Roc is currently the world’s largest wing-span aircraft.
It was originally planned that Roc would deliver hypersonic aircraft to the stratosphere and then release them. These vehicles will then launch rocket engines, bringing the payload of the spacecraft into low Earth orbit. The idea was that it would be much easier to launch a spacecraft this way – and use much less fuel – than to launch a launch vehicle directly from the ground, fighting Earth’s gravity.
After the change of ownership, it was decided that Roc would instead be used to produce Talon-A drones, which will fly at speeds above Mach 5, before landing on the runway. They will be used mainly to study various aspects of hypersonic flight.
The TA-0 is not a complete version of the Talon-A with a rocket engine, but is a test machine that will be used to evaluate and verify the system that will release it from the bottom of the central wing of the Roc.
The wing-like pylon mounted on the Roc from which it will be released is made of aluminum with carbon fiber sheath, weighs approximately 3629 kg and covers 4.3 m of the span of the central wing of the Roc. It includes a winch system that will be used to lift and install the TA-0 before takeoff.