Stratolaunch has been awarded a research contract by the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to supplement flight testing resources.

Under the agreement, the company will work on delivering targets that are representative and replicative of the actual threat.

The company plans to achieve this through ‘affordable, commercially contracted, rapid-turnaround hypersonic flight testing’.

It will benefit the US Department of Defense (DoD) and its prime contractors.

Stratolaunch chief technology officer Daniel Millman said: “We’re excited to provide MDA with a threat-representative and threat-replicating target that allows them to understand how to engage and intercept hypersonic threats.”

The team at Stratolaunch is currently engaged in completing the test flights of the company’s next suite of Roc carrier aircraft.

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The team is also working towards building Stratolaunch’s first two Talon-A test vehicles, namely TA-0 and TA-1.

By the end of this year, the TA-1 will begin its power-on testing, with the commencement of hypersonic flight testing expected for next year.

The TA-1 will start delivering services to commercial and government customers from 2023.

The Talon-A vehicles are launched from the company’s Roc carrier aircraft.

They feature rocket-powered, autonomous, reusable testbeds that can carry customised payloads at speeds more than Mach 5.

According to the company, this feature allows ‘routine access’ to the ‘hypersonic flight environment’ as it is crucial for scientific research, technological development, and component demonstration.

Based in the US, Stratolaunch aims to advance high-speed technology through innovative design and manufacturing of aerospace vehicles.