Stratolaunch, the airline founded by late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, has taken Another step Towards its goal of launching hypersonic aircraft into the air.
The company has completed the second test flight of its giant carrier aircraft called Roc, which is currently known as the largest aircraft in the world by wingspan.
The twin-body Roc plane with a wingspan of 385 feet – twice the width of a Boeing 747 – flew for three hours and 14 minutes over the Mojave Desert at an altitude of 14,000 feet.
While it did not fly at higher altitudes as it did during its first test flight a year ago, it did fly 44 minutes longer than before, with the flight lasting three hours and 14 minutes.
According to the company, the successful flight confirms the performance and capability of the aircraft, as well as the improvements that have been made to the carrier aircraft since its previous flight.
“Stratolaunch is developing our nation’s ability to be a world leader in hypersonic aircraft,” said Daniel Millman, chief technology officer of the company.
“Our flight today brings us another step closer to our promise of providing the best hypersonic flight test service in the world,” he added.
The company has begun assembling a copy of its hypersonic aircraft, Talon-A, which is expected to fly for the first time early next year.
It has also started assembling a reusable version of Talon-A, which it expects to begin testing in 2023.
Stratolaunch aims to be able to fire reusable Talon-A from its carrier aircraft.
The Mach 6 hypersonic aircraft is expected to provide 60 seconds of hypersonic flight time before decelerating again for an independent landing via a conventional runway.
Stratolaunch’s activities may be of interest to the US military, which sees hypersonic aircraft as good weapons delivery systems due to their maneuverability.
Melman said the company was studying how it could help the Department of Defense mitigate risks for many of the expensive flight tests.
He added: Our experimental base has the capacity to carry payloads, has the ability to test materials, and has the ability to fly across a variety of configurations of interest to people across the offensive and defensive spectrum alike in terms of velocity of sound.