Stratolaunch announced that its carrier aircraft, the world’s largest, has successfully completed a fifth test flight after flying for 4 hours and 58 minutes over the Mojave Desert. It reached a maximum altitude of 22,500 feet (6858 m) while testing a new pylon on the aircraft’s center wing that will eventually be used to carry and release Talon-A hypersonic vehicles.
This new pylon consists of a mini-wing and adapter made from both aluminum as well as carbon fiber skins. It weighs in at around 8,000 pounds and takes up 14-feet of Roc’s 95-foot center wingspan, providing adequate space between the aircraft’s dual fuselages for safe vehicle release and launch. For those who aren’t familiar with Talon-A, these rocket-powered vehicles are autonomous, reusable testbeds carrying customizable payloads at speeds above Mach 5. Speaking of hypersonic aircraft, Lockheed Martin’s SR-72 is reportedly in the works.
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Today’s successful flight validates important hardware improvements to the carrier aircraft. The pylon is a crucial component of our combined launch system, and I am proud of the team’s timely and quality integration work that occurred since our last test flight. It is through their dedication that we continue to make steady progress toward achieving our next milestones of Talon-A flight tests later this year,” said Dr. Zachary Krevor, Stratolaunch Chief Executive Officer and President.