The world’s largest aircraft with a wingspan of 383 feet recently took to the skies over California’s Mojave Desert to complete a six-hour test flight that set a new record.
The Stratolaunch Roc, or Roc, aircraft carrier conducted its second test flight Friday morning while carrying the Talon-A class test vehicle.
The Talon-A (TA-O) is a 28-foot-tall reusable test aircraft that can carry payloads at supersonic speeds—more than five times the speed of sound.
The flight is an important step for the company’s progress toward class testing and the first hypersonic flight of the TA-1 during the first half of 2023.
The Stratolaunch Rock carrier aircraft set a new world record on Friday when it completed six hours in the sky
The primary goals of Friday’s flight, the vehicle’s ninth, included flying outside the local Mojave area for the first time and assessing the classroom environment.
“Our amazing team continues to make progress on the testing schedule, and through their hard work we are closer than ever to a safe separation and the first hypersonic vehicle,” Stratolaunch CEO and President Zachary Crevor said in a statement. Flight tests.
Talon-A is one of a series of rocket-powered Talon vehicles developed by Stratolaunch that can reach speeds of up to Mach 6, or six times the speed of sound.
Roc will now conduct a drop test of the Talon-A prototype over the Pacific Ocean in December, and if successful, the company aims to launch its first hypersonic test vehicle, the Talon-A TA-1.
Stratolaunch is also progressing with the manufacture of its first and second fully reusable hypersonic vehicles, the TA-2 and TA-3.
“A comprehensive assessment of launch conditions will provide data to reduce risks and ensure a clean and safe launch of Talon-A during future tests,” said Crevor.
“We are excited about what lies ahead this year as we bring our online hypersonic flight test service to our customers and the nation.”
Roc at Stratolaunch is wider than the length of a football field from goal to goal, generally about 345 feet.
It weighs nearly 500,000 pounds unloaded, but can take off at a maximum weight of 1.3 million pounds.
The plane rolls with the help of 28 wheels. Once airborne, it is powered by six 747 aircraft engines.
It is developed by a company of the same name founded in 2011 by the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who launched this massive craft to the world in 2019.
The Roc conducted its second test flight Friday morning while carrying the Talon-A class test vehicle
Roc at Stratolaunch is wider than the length of a football field from goal to goal, generally about 345 feet
Allen died at the age of 65 in October 2018 of complications from non-Hodgkin lymphoma, less than a year before the Stratolaunch first flew.
Allen was intended for a Stratolaunch to launch satellite-laden rockets into space from the air, but after its first flight, it was purchased by Cerberus Capital Management.
The new owners of the ambitious operation initially plan to use it as a carrier aircraft to launch reusable hypersonic flight research vehicles.
The H-shaped Roc has twin hulls as a catamaran, and is a multi-hull watercraft that features two parallel heels of the same size.
The flight is an important step for the company’s progress toward class testing and the first hypersonic flight of the TA-1 during the first half of 2023. Here is the Roc’s descent after breaking its record
The Roc takes a crew of three — pilot, co-pilot, and flight engineer — who sit in the right fuselage, and steer the plane a fair distance to the right of the centerline, like the Millennium Falcon in Star Wars.
The left fuselage has what looks like a cockpit with windows for spectators, but the section is empty and unpressurized.
Powered by the same type of engines as the Boeing 747, the Stratolaunch has a top speed of 530 mph (853 km/h).
In addition to his record-breaking width, the Rock has an impressive height—it stands 50 feet from the ground to the top of its vertical tail, which is taller than a four-story building.