Stratolaunch test flight canceled after ‘unexpected results’

Stratolaunch has confirmed that the sixth test flight of the world’s largest aircraft by wingspan, Roc, ended earlier than expected. The test flight was scheduled to take around three and a half hours, but ended after just under 90 minutes.

During the test flight, which took place June 9 over California’s Mojave Desert, the plane reached an altitude of 15,000 feet.

Roc’s sixth test flight ended earlier than expected on June 9th. Photo: Stratolaunch

Stratolaunch later tweeted the following, including a video of Roc coming in to land at the end of his test flight:

SIMPLEFLYING VIDEO OF THE DAY

The test flight

Although Stratolaunch was unable to achieve its full goals, Thursday’s test flight was not entirely in vain. It instead focused on the continuous evaluation of both the aircraft’s overall performance and handling characteristics, and its landing gear functionality.

The test flight specifically examined Roc’s flight envelope to determine any changes following the recent addition of the pylon on the aircraft’s center wing.

An airplane’s flight envelope is the range of combinations of speed, altitude, and angle of attack within which it is aerodynamically stable.

The Pylon is used to safely transport and release rocket-powered Talon-A hypersonic vehicles. Talon-A is Stratolaunch’s 28-foot-long (8.5 m) prototype hypersonic vehicle, designed to fly as fast as Mach 6, or six times the speed of sound. The company hopes to develop reusable versions of its Talon-A vehicles by the end of 2023.


Roc’s sheer size is clearly visible in this photo. Photo: Stratolaunch

dr Zachary Krevor, CEO and President of Stratolaunch said:

“Today’s flight builds on previous successful flights and hardware improvements. We will leverage this flight experience as we complete integrated testing and prepare for Talon A test flights in the coming months.”

A previous tweet from the company showed the pilots boarding the distinctive-looking plane (both the pilot and co-pilot sit in the right fuselage cockpit to fly the plane):

Scaled Composites Model 351 Stratolaunch

Roc also goes by the not-so-catchy name of Scaled Composites Model 351 Stratolaunch. With its twin fuselage and six engines, Roc’s unique appearance has caught the attention of aviation enthusiasts worldwide since its first test flight on April 13, 2019.

Roc also boasts the largest wingspan of any aircraft in the world – an impressive 117 m (385 feet). For comparison, an American football field is 300 feet wide.

From this angle, it’s easy to see why Roc is the world’s largest aircraft by wingspan. Photo: Stratolaunch

Stratolaunch is headquartered in Seattle, Washington and was founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen over a decade ago. In 2011, the company made headlines when it began developing the Roc, the world’s largest aircraft by wingspan.

Stratolaunch designed Roc to launch payloads to a high cruising altitude before releasing them into orbit for a rocket – essentially using the aircraft as a flying launch pad.​​​​​​​

What do you think of Roc’s sixth test flight being cancelled? Share your thoughts by commenting below.

See also  2024 5-star QB Dylan Raiola commitment gets Patrick Mahomes comparison

Leave a Comment