MIAMI – Stratolaunch, the plane with the largest wingspan in the world, has completed its second successful flight at the Mojave Air and Space Port in southeast California.
According to Space.com, the aircraft, named Roc, has a wingspan of 385ft (117mt), flew on April 29 for three hours and 14 minutes to gather more data, reached an altitude of 14000ft (4267mt) and a speed of approximately 200mph (324 kph). This second test flight was performed two years after the first one and a change in ownership and was considered a success.
Stratolaunch was created by the former Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in 2011 with the aim to use the behemoth airplane for the in-flight launch of satellites but its creator never had the time to see his idea taking into the air. Paul Allen died a few months before the first test flight was performed in April 2019.
Comments from COO
Zachary Krevor, Stratolaunch COO, has responsibility for the day-to-day operation of Stratolaunch, including oversight of the carrier aircraft, conversion of the carrier aircraft into a mobile launch platform, and leadership for many of the business functions.
The COO was well satisfied by the test flight, saying, “We’re very pleased with how the Stratolaunch aircraft performed today, and we are equally excited about how much closer the aircraft is to launching its first hypersonic vehicle.”
A Multi-capable, Hypersonic Aircraft
The new destiny of Stratolaunch’s Roc, newly owned since October 2019, is now to launch maneuverable hypersonic vehicles from mid-air, an aircraft that will fly at five times the speed of sound, named Talon-A, created and manufactured by Stratolaunch, with a test target date for 2022 for an expendable type followed by a reusable Talon-A in 2023.
For the time being, the vehicle does not have a use in commercial aviation and is primarily meant for military use. On this subject, Daniel Millman, Chief Technology Officer, said “Our testbed has the ability to carry payloads. It has the ability to test materials. It has the ability to fly a variety of profiles that are of interest to folks across the spectrum both offensively and defensively in terms of hypersonics.”
He also added, “One of the areas that we’re looking at is, how can we help the Department of Defense in mitigating risks for a lot of their expensive flight testing.”
Featured image: Stratolaunch Roc, world’s largest airplane – Photo: Stratolaunch Media