Stratolaunch has completed the fifth flight of its Roc carrier aircraft, successfully testing a new pylon on the aircraft’s center wing. The pylon, which is constructed with aluminum and carbon fiber skins, will be used to carry and release the company’s Talon-A hypersonic vehicles. It weighs in at approximately 8,000 pounds and takes up 14 feet of Roc’s 95-foot center wingspan along with housing a winch system that will be used to load the Talon vehicles from the ground.
“Today’s successful flight validates important hardware improvements to the carrier aircraft,” said Stratolaunch President and CEO Zachary Krevor. “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.”
The 4-hour and 58-minute test flight took place over the Mojave Desert, reaching a maximum altitude of 22,500 feet. In addition to validating the Roc’s performance and handling characteristics with the pylon hardware, Stratolaunch says the test’s objectives included continued validation of landing gear operations. The company is planning to begin hypersonic flight testing with the Talon-A vehicles, which are “rocket-powered, autonomous, reusable testbeds carrying customizable payloads at speeds above Mach 5,” in 2023.