On the calm morning of May 4, also known as Star Wars Day, Stratolaunch (Roc), the world’s largest aircraft by wingspan, gracefully lifted off runway 30 at the Mojave Air and Space Port.
The plane flew for 4 hours and 58 minutes over the Mojave Desert and reached an altitude of 22,500 feet.
The fifth flight launched a new pylon on the aircraft’s center wing that will be used to transport and release Talon-A hypersonic vehicles. The hardware consists of a mini wing and an adapter constructed with aluminum and carbon fiber skins.
According to a Stratolaunch press release, the pylon weighs approximately 8,000 pounds and takes up 14 feet of Roc’s 95-foot center span, allowing ample space between the aircraft‘s twin fuselages for safe release and launch. vehicle safety.
The pylon also incorporated a winch system to lift the Talon-A onto the pylon from the ground. This will speed up launch preparation and reduce the need for additional ground support personnel.
Launched from the Roc carrier aircraft, Talon-A vehicles are rocket-powered, self-contained, reusable testbeds carrying customizable payloads at speeds in excess of Mach 5. This capability enables routine access to the environment hypersonic flight, which is essential for scientific research, technological development and demonstration of components.
The Talon-A can be equipped with different payloads and is fully reusable, designed to allow rapid and repeatable testing of hypersonic flight technologies for all kinds of applications.
Early results of flight test objectives include:
- Validation of general performance and handling characteristics of the aircraft, with the addition of recently installed pylon hardware.
- Ongoing validation of landing gear operations including door functionality and reciprocating gear extension.
In the May 4 press release, Dr. Zachary Krevor, CEO and President of Stratolaunch, said, “Today’s successful flight validates significant hardware improvements to the carrier aircraft.
“The pylon is a crucial part of our combined launch system, and I’m proud of the team’s rapid and quality integration work that has taken place since our last test flight. It’s thanks to their dedication that we continue to make steady progress towards achieving our next Talon-A flight test milestones later this year.
In addition to testing the carrier aircraft, the team continues to make progress on system integration and functional testing of two Talon-A test vehicles, TA-0 and TA-1
Family Day at Stratolaunch
On May 6, Stratolaunch opened the hangar to family members of employees. As my grandson works there, I had the wonderful opportunity to see where all the magic happens!
No photos were allowed inside the shed, but I can tell you it was a great occasion with a focus on the kids! Two bouncy houses, hot dogs, popcorn, cotton candy, a taco truck, special kids games, a CHP Patrol car with a table full of stickers and special kids’ items and a huge stand selling shirts and hats with the Stratolaunch logo.
Outside we were treated to an intimate and personal ride around the mega huge plane known as the Roc. We were even allowed to peek inside the cockpit located in the right fuselage.
Six Pratt & Whitney 4056 engines, hydraulics, electrical systems, landing gear and windshields, among other major components, were installed on the Stratolaunch aircraft from two former United Boeing 747-400s. Airlines.
The yokes, rudder pedals, control seat rails, cockpit cabin floors and instrument panels all came from the 747.
Soon, the Talon-A prototype will be hoisted into the pylon for tethered flight.
Exciting times ahead for Stratolaunch!