Home Technology Stratolaunch lands mammoth plane early after missed test targets

Stratolaunch lands mammoth plane early after missed test targets

Stratolaunch’s twin-hull Roc aircraft gears up for its sixth flight test. (Strato launch photo)

Stratolaunch says the sixth flight test of its super-sized Roc carrier aircraft ended ahead of schedule when the team ran into an unexpected problem.

“While completing Roc test operations, we encountered a test result that made it clear that we would not meet all the targets for this flight,” said the California-based company, founded more than a decade ago by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. said in Twitter update† “We have made the decision to land, review the data and prepare for our next flight.”

Stratolaunch’s 385-foot-wide twin-body aircraft is the world’s largest aircraft in terms of wingspan. Stratolaunch has been testing Roc at Mojave Air and Space Port in preparation for using the aircraft as a flying launch pad for rocket-powered hypersonic test vehicles.

The company, which was acquired by a private equity firm from Allen’s estate in 2019, did not specify the nature of the test results leading up to the decision to land. For what it’s worth, one of the main objectives of the flight was to: expand the test enclosure for the pylon in the middle wing who will carry and release the hypersonic vehicles.

In a post-flight statement, Stratolaunch said that once flight team members encountered the unexpected test results, they focused on validating the aircraft’s overall performance and handling characteristics with the addition of pylon hardware and on validating landing gear operations.

Before takeoff, Stratolaunch said today’s flight test was expected to last no less than three and a half hours, but the actual flight time was one hour and 26 minutes. Roc reached an altitude of 15,000 feet, the company said.

Today’s test came just over a month after the fifth flight test, which was deemed a success. Stratolaunch plans to begin in-flight testing of its Talon-A hypersonic vehicles later this year.

“Today’s flight builds on previous successful flights and hardware improvements,” said Zachary Krevor, CEO and president of Stratolaunch. “We will leverage this flying experience as we complete integrated testing and prepare for Talon-A test flights in the coming months.”

This report has been updated to include details from Stratolaunch.

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