The largest aircraft ever built now has two flights.
Stratolaunch’s ROC carrier aircraft, which is being prepared to carry hypersonic vehicles into the air, conducted its second test flight on Thursday morning (April 29).
The giant aircraft with a wingspan of 385 feet (117 meters) took off from the Mojave aerospace port in southeastern California at 10:28 am ET (1428 GMT; 7:28 am local time) during a data collection shake-up. a cruise that lasted 3 hours 14 minutes.
Connected: Stratolaunch Test Pictures – World’s Largest Airplane in Action
The Roc reached a maximum altitude of 14,000 feet (4,267 m) and a top speed of 199 mph (320 km / h) on Thursday’s test flight, which Stratolaunch found successful.
“We are very pleased with how the Stratolaunch aircraft performed today, and we are equally excited about how close it is to launching its first hypersonic ship,” Stratolaunch Chief Operating Officer Zachary Crevor said today in a post-flight press conference.
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen founded Stratolaunch in 2011 with the idea that Roc would be used to launch satellites in the air. But Allen died in October 2018 without ever seeing the vision come true, or even seeing the twin-fuselage Roc lift off the ground. The aircraft made its first and so far only test flight until April 2019.
The company was sold in October 2019 to its current owners, who changed the role of Rock. The plane will now serve as a mobile launch platform for hypersonic vehicles, a maneuverable ship that flies at least five times faster than an aircraft. sound speed…
Stratolaunch is developing its own hypersonic family, including a 28-foot (8.5 m) reusable ship called Talon-A, which will be the first to fly the Roc. But until that happens; The Roc must first make a number of additional solo flights, company officials said today.
If all goes according to plan, the first drop tests with the Roc and the Talon-A test unit will take place early next year. According to Stratolaunch CTO Daniel Millman, the one-shot Talon-A will reach hypersonic speeds later in 2022, and the first flight with the reusable Talon-A will take place in 2023.
The data collected during Talon-A flights may be of interest to the US military, which is developing own hypersonic vehicles for many years, although none of them work yet. (Hypersonic vehicles are good weapons delivery systems because their maneuverability makes them harder to counter than traditional ballistic missiles.)
“One of the areas we are looking at is how can we help the Department of Defense mitigate the risks associated with costly flight tests?” Millman said. “Our test bench can carry a payload. He has the ability to test materials. He has the ability to manage various profiles that are of interest to people across the spectrum, both offensively and defensively from a hypersonic point of view. “
Mike Wall is the author of “There“(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Carl Tate), a book on the quest for alien life. Follow it on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.