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World’s largest aircraft launches first powered flight of hypersonic vehicle at Mach 5

How fast is too fast?
  • Aerospace company Stratolaunch used the world’s largest aircraft
  • The “Roc” launched the company’s first hypersonic vehicle on March 9
  • The hypersonic vehicle can reach speeds up to Mach 5

 

Published on Mar 13, 2024 at 4:41PM (UTC+4)

Last updated on Mar 13, 2024 at 9:18PM (UTC+4)

Edited by Alessandro Renesis

An aerospace company in the US just used the world’s largest aircraft to launch its new research project – a hypersonic vehicle.

Likewise, the vehicle, called Talon-A1 (T-A1), aced its first powered flight on Saturday, March 9.

The humongous carrier plane “Roc” is the world’s largest aircraft, and it’s basically two large planes stuck together.

READ MORE: Man in jet suit astonishingly matches speed with Airbus A380 over Dubai

While it may look funky, the Roc has a wingspan of 117 meters (384 feet).

To put that size into perspective, it’s bigger than a soccer field.

It can carry a substantial payload into the air, with a maximum take-off weight of a whopping 1.3 million pounds (589,670 kg).

Although, don’t mistake the world’s largest aircraft for the world’s biggest passenger plane.

Stratolaunch, the company behind the project, launched the Talon TA-1 aboard the Roc on Saturday.

READ MORE: Man in jet suit astonishingly matches speed with Airbus A380 over Dubai

The test flight took off from Mojave Air and Space Port at Rutan Field in California.

Shortly after, the TA-1 launched mid-air, ignited its engines, accelerated, climbed in altitude, and performed a controlled water landing.

Stratolaunch was quite evasive about sharing the exact details but mentioned that the test flight was a great success, and the TA-1 managed to reach hypersonic speeds of Mach 5.

To be clear, Mach 1 is the speed of sound, and Mach 5 is five times the speed of sound.

“Today was a great day for the Stratolaunch team. I am extremely proud of their perseverance to reach this point. The successful outcome of the test is a direct result of the team’s technical prowess and professionalism,” Dr. Zachary Krevor, President and CEO of Stratolaunch, said in a statement.

“While I can’t share the specific altitude and speed Talon TA-1 reached due to proprietary agreements with our customers, we are pleased to share that in addition to meeting all primary and customer objectives of the flight, we reached high supersonic speeds approaching Mach 5 and collected a great amount of data at an incredible value to our customers,” Dr. Krevor added.

It’s an exciting time for hypersonic vehicles, and Stratolaunch is already working on the next-gen Talon TA-2 and TA-3 after the Talon TA-1, which will soon take their first flights aboard the world’s largest aircraft.

The hypersonic race is on, as various companies, like NASA, are developing hypersonic vehicles to reach higher speeds.

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