Stratolaunch announced that its massive carrier aircraft Roc has successfully completed its seventh flight test. After ending its previous sortie earlier than expected, this time, the company conducted a flight that lasted approximately three hours, allowing Roc to reach new heights.
On June 9th, Stratolaunch’s Roc, which has a wingspan of 385 feet (117 meters), completed its sixth flight. The aircraft was supposed to stay in the air for several hours, but the trip ended shortly than expected.
The team didn’t specify the reason for cutting the flight short, mentioning in a Twitter post that they “encountered a test result that made it clear we would not achieve all objectives for this flight.” But now, it looks like the problem was fixed in just a week, allowing Roc to soar to the skies once again.
This time, the massive carrier was able to fly for three hours and one minute over the Mojave Desert. Not only that, but it also set a new altitude record. Roc climbed higher than ever, reaching 27,000 feet (8,230 meters).
“Today’s flight is a success story of the Stratolaunch team’s ability to increase operational tempo to the pace desired by our customers for performing frequent hypersonic flight test,” said Dr. Zachary Krevor, Stratolaunch Chief Executive Officer and President.
“Furthermore, the team reached a new altitude record of 27,000 feet, thereby demonstrating the aircraft performance needed for our Talon hypersonic vehicle to reach its wide design range of hypersonic conditions,” he added.
These flights will soon be followed by hypersonic tests. Roc will carry the company’s Talon-A testbed, which is a rocket-powered vehicle capable of carrying customizable payloads and achieving speeds above Mach 5.
Roc will be able to launch not one but multiple hypersonic vehicles in a single mission. For that, it needs a pylon, which will be used to carry and release the Talon-A. During its seventh flight, a newly-installed pylon was tested, along with the aircraft’s handling characteristics.
Stratolaunch recently integrated the TA-0, the first Talon-A test vehicle, indicating that carry and separation testing might begin soon. The company is also making significant progress on system integration for the TA-1 hypersonic flight test vehicle, and it continues to work on the TA-2, which is its first reusable vehicle. Stratolaunch expects hypersonic flying services to be available for the government and commercial customers next year.