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  • Writer's picturePrabhjot Singh Maan

World's Largest Plane Stratolaunch's Roc, aces 1st flight carrying Hypersonic prototype

Stratolaunch is one step closer to a drop test of the Talon-A hypersonic prototype.

On Friday, Stratolaunch, maker of the world's largest aeroplane, successfully test-flew a prototype of its upcoming air-launched Talon hypersonic vehicle (Oct. 28).

It was demonstrated during a flight that Stratolaunch's gigantic Roc carrier plane can indeed carry the experimental hypersonic vehicles it is meant to launch from mid-air by carrying the test vehicle Talon-A (TA-0) into the sky above California's Mojave Desert.

According to Brandon Wood, vice president of programmes and operations at Stratolaunch, "this is the first integrated flight test of our Talon launch system."

"From here, we'll move on to more challenging flights for our hypersonic testbed that will undoubtedly be more successful."

The 385-foot-wide (117 m) Stratolaunch Roc lifted off from the Mojave Air and Space Port with the 28-foot-long (8.5-meter) Talon prototype vehicle mounted to a pylon in the middle of the enormous aircraft's wings.

The test was successful, the corporation claimed, adding that the flight lasted slightly over five hours and reached a maximum altitude of 23,000 feet (7,000 m).

"I was ecstatic seeing those two vehicles combined as they lifted off the runway and into the sky," Stratolaunch CEO and President Zachary Krevor told reporters. "Seeing our flight products operating together represents a significant step towards regular and reusable hypersonic flight."

Paul Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft, established Stratolaunch in 2011 to use aircraft to launch rockets into space.

Just six months before Roc's first test flight in April 2019, Allen passed away in 2018.

Later that year, Cerberus Capital Management acquired Stratolaunch and changed it into an air-launch platform for hypersonic research.

As testbeds for hypersonic flights that can travel up to Mach 6, or six times the speed of sound, the business is creating a line of Talon vehicles.

The TA-0 mission on Friday was Stratolaunch's first with a vehicle, albeit it was the carrier plane's eighth flight overall.

If the drop test in December is successful, Stratolaunch plans to test the Talon-A TA-1, its first hypersonic vehicle, in 2023.

It is also developing the TA-2 and TA-3, two further hypersonic vehicles that are intended to be completely reusable.

"The company anticipates delivering hypersonic flight services to government and commercial customers in 2023," Stratolaunch representatives wrote in a statement.

Edited By: Prabhjot Singh Maan ( LinkedIn ).

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