Mark Lewis joins the advisory group of the Mojave aerospace firm just weeks after it completed the critical design review for its Talon-A hypersonic test vehicles.
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 technical advisory group is a specialized team that provides perspective and support for all aspects of the business, according to a release from Stratolaunch.
Lewis recently served as acting deputy undersecretary of defense for research and engineering at the Pentagon, a role that had him responsible for research, development and prototyping activities, Stratolaunch said in its release, adding that Lewis was the senior-most scientific professional in the Defense Department.
Lewis said he was excited to work with the other advisory board members on bringing a rhythm of test flight operations that the nation hasn’t seen since the end of the storied X-15 program.
“The Talon craft will be the reusable hypersonic ‘wind tunnel in the sky’ that many of us in the field have been talking about for years,” Lewis said in a statement.
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.