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Stratolaunch Cuts Short Sixth Flight Test of Its Mammoth Carrier Aircraft

On June 9th, the company conducted the sixth test flight of its carrier aircraft Roc. The massive airplane was supposed to soar over the Mojave Desert for a few hours, but it landed faster than expected.
Stratolaunch's Roc carrier aircraft takes off from Mojave Air and Space Port during its sixth flight test 6 photos
Stratolaunch giant carrier aircraft completes 5th test flightStratolaunch giant carrier aircraft completes 5th test flightStratolaunch giant carrier aircraft completes 5th test flightStratolaunch giant carrier aircraft completes 5th test flightStratolaunch giant carrier aircraft completes 5th test flight
During the last few months, Stratolaunch has made significant progress with the development of its Talon-A test vehicles, which are designed to be carried and launched from Roc. These vehicles will also be able to transport different payloads and fly five times faster than the speed of sound.

Roc, the world's largest aircraft by wingspan, has conducted several successful flights that proved the team was on track with its hypersonic flight plan. The company has recently unveiled its first Talon-A vehicle, the TA-0. It also announced that it successfully integrated it with the carrier aircraft, signaling that a carry and separation test is expected to take place later this year.

The latest flight test focused on extending Roc's flight envelope with the newly-installed pylon. The hardware, which is mounted on the aircraft's center wingspan, will be used to securely transport and release the Talon-A hypersonic vehicles. Aside from transporting and releasing them, the pylon includes a mechanism designed to lift the vehicles from the ground onto a platform.

For its sixth flight, the aircraft was supposed to stay in the air for approximately 3.5 hours, but it only flew for an hour and 26 minutes. Stratolaunch didn't specify the reason why it shortened today's mission, announcing in a Twitter post that it "encountered a test result that made it clear we would not achieve all objectives for this flight." Therefore, it "made the decision to land, review the data, and prepare for our next flight."

But the team is confident that the issue will be fixed and that the aircraft will soon soar to the skies to gear up for hypersonic vehicles.

"We will leverage this flight experience as we complete integrated testing in the coming months and prepare for Talon-A test flights," said Dr. Zachary Krevor, Stratolaunch Chief Executive Officer and President, in a statement.

The company continues to make substantial progress on system integration for the first hypersonic flight test vehicle, called TA-1, and advance the development of the first fully reusable hypersonic vehicle, TA-2. Stratolaunch hopes that it will be able to provide hypersonic flying services to operators starting next year.


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