Stratolaunch carrier Roc Hero

The measure of: Stratolaunch carrier Roc

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A Seattle-based company has conducted the third-ever test flight of its ambitious Roc carrier aircraft. The move is another step in the firm’s hypersonic innovation targets.

Founded in 2011, Stratolaunch Systems produces and operates hypersonic testbeds.

The Roc aircraft is described as a mobile multi-vehicle launch platform, built to carry and launch hypersonic and aerospace craft. With a twin-fuselage design and powered by six engines, the 117m-wide aircraft is said to have the longest wingspan in the world.

The plane first flew on 13 April 2019, and completed its third test flight on 17 January 2022, when it flew for four hours and 23 minutes over the Mojave Desert in California after taking off at 08:47 (California time). The aircraft reached an altitude of 23,500ft (7,160m) at an indicated airspeed of 180 knots.

Stratolaunch carrier Roc Inline

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As a result of the test, the company says it is now edging closer to reaching its hypersonic goals. Stratolaunch notes that the flight helps the Roc carrier to aid launches of Talon-A, its upcoming hypersonic testbed.

Talon-A is a Mach 6-class vehicle that has made hypersonic testing more frequent. Stratolaunch describes it as a flexible, rapid testbed that will be integral in the mission for hypersonic experiments, research, and operations.

“Today’s successful flight shows and validates improvements to the carrier aircraft’s systems and overall flight performance,” said Dr Zachary Krevor, Stratolaunch president and CEO. “We will take the data we have gathered and continue to advance the aircraft’s operational performance to support hypersonic testing in 2022.”

Stratolaunch carrier Roc: vital statistics

Total wingspan: 117m

Maximum take-off weight: 590t

Overall height: 15m

Estimate mileage: 1,000 nautical miles

Maximum altitude: 35,000ft

The hangar: 103,256 sq. ft.

Wheels: 28

Boeing 747 engines: 6

Payload capacity: enable 225 tonne

Duration of third test flight over the Mojave Desert: 4 hours 23 minutes

Length: 73m

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