The Stratolaunch, the world’s largest aircraft with a 385-foot wingspan, has come a long way since it fired up its six Boeing 747 engines in September 2017.
The plane pushed closer to its first flight after completing another successful taxi test. The behemoth traveled down the runway at 46 mph (40 knots), according to a tweet by Paul Allen, founder of Stratolaunch Systems Corp. and co-founder of Microsoft.
“The primary purpose of the activity was to evaluate updates made to the steering and primary braking systems. We are excited to report all objectives of this test were achieved,” says company spokesperson Alex Moji in a Feb. 26 email to SpaceNews. “The data collected will be used to evaluate and update our flight simulator for crew training.”
The medium-speed taxi trials took place at the Mojave Air & Space Port, Feb. 24-25, 2018. The ground speeds varied from 10-40 knots during the test series. These results show an improvement from its low-speed taxi test performed in December, which hit a maximum speed of 28 mph (25 knots).
“This was another exciting milestone for our team and the program. Our crew was able to demonstrate ground directional control with nose gear steering, and our brake systems were exercised successfully on the runway. Our first low-speed taxi test is a very important step toward first flight. We are all proud and excited,” says George Bugg, aircraft program manager, Stratolaunch Systems Corp., about the December achievement.
The Stratolaunch can carry a payload capacity of more than 500,000 pounds over a range of 2,000 nautical miles. With its air-launch capabilities and reusable platform, the teams hopes the aircraft will be operational by the end of the decade.
Watch the latest taxi test in the video below.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense