Stratolaunch’s giant Roc airplane makes third test flight

Capitalism in space: Stratolaunch today successfully completed the third test flight of its giant Roc airplane, now being optimized to provide a test bed for launching hypersonic test vehicles.

Today’s flight was conducted from California’s Mojave Air and Space Port and lasted four hours and 23 minutes. It came nearly three years after Roc’s first aerlal test, and almost a year after the second flight. The outing’s main objective was to evaluate the airplane’s performance and handling characteristics at increased altitude, and to retract and extend the left mid-main landing gear.

Stratolaunch said Roc reached an altitude of 23,500 feet at an indicated air speed of 180 knots (207 mph), besting the previous flight test’s maximum altitude of 14,000 feet. Before landing, the plane’s crew conducted a couple of close approaches for testing purposes.

The company plans about six to eight more Roc test flights leading up to the first test flights of its hypersonic Talon-A test vehicle, of which Stratolaunch is presently developing two.

I have embedded below the fold the video of the flight, cued about one hour twelve minutes after the start of the live stream to the moment Roc takes off. Those geeks in my readership might want to go back to the beginning to hear the full almost six-hour-long broadcast. My impression is that Stratolaunch provided some excellent announcers to provide technical details describing what is happening.
» Read more

Air Force hypersonic test ends in failure

The second test flight in an Air Force program to research hypersonic flight failed when its booster rocket was intentionally destroyed for safety reasons immediately after launch.

It was the second test of the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon, a program managed by U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command to develop a conventional deep-strike munition that travels through the atmosphere on a nonballistic trajectory. In its first flight, the vehicle lifted off from Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii and flew a nonballistic, glide trajectory at hypersonic speeds toward the Reagan Test Site at Kwajalein Atoll — some 4,000 kilometers away — where it arrived about 30 minutes later.