Stratolaunch officially buys Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl carrier aircraft

At a time when Virgin Orbit is undergoing bankruptcy proceedings, competitors are already gradually buying out various parts of the company’s business. This week, Stratolaunch’s bid to buy the Boeing 747 Cosmic Girl for $17 million is approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, which allows Stratolaunch to use a modified carrier aircraft to transport its Talon-A (TA-1) hypersonic vehicles, which ideally should begin operation by 2024.

Illustration of a Boeing 747 Stratolaunch launch vehicle in a launch configuration with a Talon-A reusable hypersonic testbed. Image: Delta Research Digital Products

As soon as the agreement with Virgin Orbit on Cosmic Girl is closed — this will happen before the end of July this year — Stratolaunch will immediately repurpose it for reusable Talon-A hypersonic testing. Stratolaunch stated that this acquisition would allow them to increase their flight test capabilities and provide support to government and commercial customers around the world. Currently, the company uses its own air launch platform — the Roc giant aircraft.

Dropping The Talon hypersonic test vehicle from the Stratolaunch Roc. Photo: Ineresting Engineering

“The acquisition of this aircraft is an important milestone in the company’s development. As the Roc remains our primary aircraft, the additional Boeing 747 will give our launch platform enhanced capabilities and flexibility. We will be able to increase our flight test capabilities and become an even stronger partner for global customers,” Zachary Krevor, president and CEO of Stratolaunch, said in a press release.

At a speed of Mach 4

The Talon-A hypersonic vehicle is capable of moving at least 4 times faster than the speed of sound or more than 4 Mach. Hypersonic aircraft have various applications and can be airplanes, rockets or spacecraft.

Cosmic Girl with a suspended LauncherOne rocket. Source: @pacalin

The Talon-A test flight lasted 4 hours and 8 minutes and demonstrated that the launch system can cleanly and safely separate hypersonic vehicles from the pylon of the Roc central wing. The test also confirmed the telemetry between the devices and communications facilities of the Vandenberg Space Force Base.

Talon-A (concept). Source: Stratolaunch

Many people think that the United States is lagging behind the hypersonic capabilities of China, which over the past few years has announced that it has developed and deployed hypersonic missiles. However, American commercial companies such as Stratolaunch and Hermeus hope to change the situation.

Earlier we reported on what hypersonic missiles “Dagger” were.

According to Universe Today

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