The world’s largest aircraft lifts a hypersonic vehicle into the sky

The world’s largest Roc aircraft, owned by Stratolaunch, has flown for the first time in three months. It is preparing for the launch of the Talon-A hypersonic aircraft, which should take place before the end of 2023.

The world’s largest airplane. Source: Gauntlet Aerospace/Christian Turner

Roc plane is back in the sky

Stratolaunch announced that on Friday, January 13, it conducted a test flight of its Roc carrier aircraft. It has a wingspan of 117 meters and is the largest in the world. The last time this giant, which has two fuselages, took to the sky in October.

This was Roc’s ninth test flight and the second in which it lifted the Talon-A hypersonic aircraft into the sky. If a number of flights with it on board are successful, then at the end of 2023 Stratolaunch will conduct a test reset with Roc and eventually get closer to launch.

The new flight was a record in duration. Roc took off from the runway of the Mojave cosmodrome at almost six in the evening, GMT+2, and returned to the spaceport only six hours later. During the flight, it reached an altitude of 6860 m.

Target of the Stratolaunch company

Stratolaunch claims that in addition to being the longest flight of the Roc, it was the first time it ventured to fly outside the terrain surrounding the Mojave Spaceport. They are sure that they are approaching their target, what are the commercial flights of hypersonic vehicles.

The company was founded in 2011. Then its father Paul Allen saw Roc as a launch pad for aerial space launches. Stratolaunch was supposed to be a competitor to LauncherOne and Northrop Grumman. But he died in 2018, never reaching the target.

A year after Paul Allen’s death, Stratolaunch bought Cerberus Capital Management. Since then, the company’s goal has changed and now the world’s largest aircraft is considered primarily as a test site for hypersonic aircraft.

At the same time, how they will be used is described rather vaguely so far. It seems that the company is primarily interested in the very possibility of obtaining an aircraft capable of traveling thousands of kilometers in a few tens of minutes.

According to www.space.com

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