Stratolaunch Roc conducts third flight, prepares for hypersonic tests

Stratolaunch Roc, the world’s largest aircraft by wingspan, has completed its third test flight. 

The airplane took off at 8:47 AM PST (16:47 GMT) on January 16, 2022, from Mojave Air & Space Port (MHV), and spent four hours 23 minutes in the air. According to Stratolaunch, it reached the altitude of 23,500 feet (7,162.8 meters). 

“Today’s successful flight demonstrates and validates improvements to the carrier aircraft’s systems and overall flight performance. We will take the data we gathered today and continue to advance the aircraft’s operational performance to support hypersonic testing in 2022,” Dr. Zachary Krevor, Stratolaunch President and Chief Operating Officer, is quoted in the company’s press release 

The flight was intended to test Roc’s performance and handling at high altitudes and speeds, as well as validate landing gear operations. 

Stratolaunch Roc, formerly known as Stratolaunch, is currently owned by Stratolaunch LLC. The company plans to use it as a carrier vehicle for air-launching hypersonic test vehicles.  

It is primarily intended to carry the Talon-A, a rocket-powered Mach 5 vehicle whose maiden flight is scheduled for the early 2022. 

Originally, the Roc was intended to air launch space rockets. It was built by Scaled Composites and conducted the maiden flight in April 2019. 

In May 2019, Scaled Composites ceased operating the aircraft. It was picked up by Stratolaunch LLC, which renamed the airplane and changed its mission profile to hypersonic vehicle carrier. The second flight test occurred in April 2021. 

With a wingspan of 117 meters (385 feet), the Stratolaunch Roc is arguably the largest aircraft in the world, although it is considerably lighter and shorter than the second largest aircraft the Antonov An-225 Mriya. 

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