A California-based company, Stratolaunch, has achieved a milestone by successfully conducting the seventh test flight of its jumbo aircraft with a record-breaking accomplishment. It has been reported that Roc, which is the world’s largest airplane, has once again conquered the skies by breaking its altitude record. The airplane had flown non-stop for three hours over the Mojave Desert at an altitude of 27,000 ft (8200 m).
Since this is the test flight, a lot of other features were also being tested. A new setup, known as the “pylon hardware”, has recently been lodged in the aircraft which is responsible for launching smaller hypersonic aircraft into the sky and that too, at a whopping speed of Mach 5. Hence, the in-flight parameters of this system were also analyzed during the test flight.
However, it is worth mentioning that Stratolaunch initially fabricated the Roc’s structural configuration in accordance with the transportation of rockets and satellites into the stratosphere and then launched them into low earth orbit, but now the strategy has been transformed to build the world’s largest airplane, which would be used as a conveyor for “hypersonic research vehicles.” This gigantic aircraft consists of six Boeing 747 engines, two fuselages that are mounted on both sides, and a wingspan of 385 ft (117 m).
Talcon A, symbolized as TA-O, is a prime example of such hypersonic aircraft, which are manufactured for “repeatable hypersonic flights”. Stratolaunch featured the initial design concept of Talcon A in 2020, however, the test version of this hypersonic aircraft was revealed last month. Owing to this, the company is making efforts to suitably fit the pylon hardware in ROC in order to successfully launch the Talcon A.
The pylon hardware is contrived from aluminum with a carbon fiber layer and a “winching system” to provide a lift to Talcon A aircraft. This hardware system weighs around 8,000 lbs (3629 kg). During this recent test flight, the company analyzed the general performance parameters of the aircraft along with sequentially analyzing the pylon hardware system. The landing gear configuration has also been monitored as per the company.
Dr. Zachary Krevor, Chief Executive Officer and President of Stratolaunch, said, “Today’s flight is a success story of the Stratolaunch team’s ability to increase the operational tempo to the pace desired by our customers for performing frequent hypersonic flight tests.” Furthermore, the team reached a new altitude record of 27,000 feet, thereby demonstrating the aircraft performance needed for our Talon hypersonic vehicle to reach its wide design range of hypersonic conditions.”