Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Mojave, CA, United States (4E) – Stratolaunch, the world’s largest aircraft, performed its first-ever taxi test recently in California a few days ago, bringing its closer to its first flight in 2019. The enormous plane reached a taxiing speed of 74 km/h during the runway test.
The mammoth aircraft, which consists of two fuselages connected by a wingspan of 117 meters (the longest of any aircraft ever built) successfully tested its six massive Boeing 747 turbofan engines in October 2017.
Stratolaunch Systems Corporation, developer of Stratolaunch, reported the turbofans were allowed to idle one at a time at the company’s facility at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. All six worked fine, said the company.
With a payload capacity of more than 227,000 kg, Stratolaunch is designed to deliver rockets into space. It will also service satellites for companies like SpaceX and Planet Labs, which launched the first of a constellation of 24 sub-meter resolution Earth observation satellites in November 2013.
The power plant of this enormous plane consists of six thrust-range jet engines sourced from two used 747-400s generating from 205 kN to 296 kN (46,000 to 66,500 pound-force) of thrust.
The Stratolaunch aircraft is part of a mobile launch system with two other primary components: a multi-stage payload “launch vehicle” to be launched at high altitude into space from Stratolaunch, and a mating and integration system by Dynetics.
Stratolaunch, which is termed a carrier aircraft, provides a platform from which air-launch space missions can be staged. It consists of two fuselages, each 72 meters long. Each of the twin fuselages is supported by 12 main landing gear wheels and two nose gear wheels with a total of 28 wheels.
Stratolaunch will release the launch vehicle — which is the “Pegasus XL rocket” being developed by Orbital ATK — at about 12,000 meters altitude.
The solid-fueled rocket motor will ignite and Pegasus XL will deliver the satellite payload into low Earth orbit (LEO). Stratolaunch will return to Earth, land and be made ready for the next mission.
Pegasus can loft small payloads of up to 443 kilograms into LEO. Stratolaunch CEO Jean Floyd said the company’s goal is to have a launch demonstration as early as 2019.
“Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be actively conducting ground and flight line testing at the Mojave Air and Space Port,” said Floyd.
Article – All Rights Reserved.
Provided by FeedSyndicate