Stratolaunch Tests the World’s Largest Plane
Jul 18, 2022
In April of 2022, Stratolaunch conducted low-speed taxi tests with Roc. Following this successful test, the company then tested the carrier aircraft in flight the next month. Stratolaunch is currently testing a new carrier pylon for Roc. This carrier pylon would be used in the launching of the company’s Talon-A hypersonic testbed. The company aims to test the Talon-A in-flight by the end of 2022 and to have the aircraft fully operational by the next year.
What Is the Roc?
Roc is a carrier aircraft. It was first commissioned in 2011 and deployed in 2017 for Stratolaunch. Roc is designed to carry and launch other aircraft like the Talon-A. It’s also the largest aircraft in the world, with a wingspan of 385 feet. Stratolaunch conducted its first flight with Roc in 2019.
Now, the company is in the process of testing Roc’s launching of the Talon-A hypersonic testbed aircraft.
What Is Talon-A?
Talon-A is a hypersonic testbed developed by Stratolaunch for the following:
- Hypersonic flight data research
- Multi-flight operational missions
- Payload and vehicle experiments
The Talon-A rocket-powered aircraft is designed to fly autonomously without a crew on board and is 28 feet long with a wingspan of 1.3 feet. Although launched by the carrier aircraft Roc, Talon-A can land on a standard runway on its own when it returns from a mission. WIth Talon-A, Stratolaunch aims to offer clients a testing environment that is both reliable and able to further develop hypersonic technology.
What Has Stratolaunch Tested with Roc and Talon-A?
The April 2022 tests were for the pylon that would be used by Roc to launch the Talon-A aircraft. This marked the first occasion that the carrier aircraft was seen with the Talon-A pylon attached to it. The tests conducted in April were low-speed taxi tests to begin the process of testing Roc with the pylon attached. That pylon is necessary to launch the Talon-A from the carrier aircraft. Without the pylon, Roc can’t carry or launch Talon-A.
The low-speed taxi tests in April were followed by an in-flight test conducted in May. Stratolaunch needs to know how the carrier aircraft performs with the pylon attached before it begins to test the carrying and testing of Talon-A itself.
What Is the Pylon?
This pylon is attached to the underside of Roc’s center wing. This pylon is what would carry and launch Talon-A or other aircraft. It attaches to the Roc via four attach points and can carry more than 500,000 pounds of payload.
What’s Next for Roc and Stratolaunch?
With the success of the pylon tests, Stratolaunch’s next step will be to test Talon-A with Roc. The company hopes to begin these tests by the end of 2022. The aim is to have Talon-A fully operational by the middle of 2023. Once Talon-A is completely tested and ready for use, the company hopes to further hypersonic research through the use of Talon-A’s data-collecting and analytics.
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