The largest-wingspan airplane ever built, designed to transport rockets and supersonic planes three at a time, and has recently completed its fifth test flight, marking a significant step toward entering service. The Stratolaunch carrier aircraft flew for over five hours, reaching an altitude of 6,858 meters (22,500 feet) and testing a new addition to the aircraft’s center that will be used to connect and launch hypersonic rockets.
While the Antonov-225 “Mriya,” which was tragically lost in the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, was technically the largest aircraft ever built (using the plane’s overall dimensions, including weight and fuselage length), Roc – named after the legendary bird of prey in Middle Eastern mythology – completely destroys all others in terms of wingspan. The Stratolaunch, which is effectively two 747s linked wing-to-wing, has a wingspan of 117 meters (384 feet), compared to the An-225’s 88.4 meters (290 feet), and there’s a reason for it.
Scaled Composites built the Stratolaunch carrier to accommodate enormous rocket and vehicle payloads, with a maximum takeoff weight of 590 tons. The structure permits a huge rocket to be carried in the middle and subsequently launched at a high height, falling just short of the An-225. This plane will be carrying Talon-A hypersonic test beds, which are designed for scientific and technological testing of hypersonic vehicles at Mach 6.
The most recent test was aimed to evaluate the aircraft’s performance and handling with the pylon attachment, as well as the landing gear. In a statement, Dr. Zachary Krevor, Stratolaunch Chief Executive Officer and President, said, “Today’s successful flight confirms critical hardware enhancements to the carrier aircraft.” “The pylon is a critical component of our combined launch system, and I’m happy of the team’s timely and high-quality integration work since our previous test flight,” said chevalier. We continue to make solid progress toward our next milestones of Talon-A flight testing later this year thanks to their devotion.” In 2023, Stratolaunch plans to conduct the first hypersonic flight test.
The sixth flight test of Roc, the world’s biggest flying aircraft, was completed successfully by Stratolaunch. The plane flew across the Mojave Desert for 4 hours and 58 minutes, reaching a height of 22,500 feet (6858 m). A new pylon on the aircraft’s center wing emerged on the fifth flight, which will be utilized to load and deploy Talon-A hypersonic vehicles.
A mini-wing and adapter made of aluminum and carbon fiber skins make up the hardware. It weighs around 8,000 pounds and takes up 14 feet of the Roc’s 95-foot center wingspan, enabling for safe vehicle release and launch between the aircraft’s two fuselages. The cutting-edge structure also includes a winch system that will lift Talon onto the platform from the ground, minimizing the requirement for ground assistance and speeding up launch preparation.