Stratolaunch to launch hypersonic vehicles from world’s biggest airplane

Stratolaunch has announced a new use for the world’s largest airplane.

According to its website, Stratolaunch has reinvented itself as a builder, tester and operator of hypersonic vehicles — those that can travel at least five times the speed of sound, or Mach 5.

The gigantic, six-engine aircraft known as Stratolaunch has a 385-foot wingspan, weighs about 500,000 pounds and is the dream of late Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen.

“Our hypersonic testbeds will serve as a catalyst in sparking a renaissance in hypersonic technologies for our government, the commercial sector and academia,” Stratolaunch CEO W. Jean Floyd said in a statement on the company’s website.

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Stratolaunch’s Talon-A is shown here in an artist’s concept.
(Stratolaunch)

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Those vehicles will include Stratolaunch’s Talon-A, a 28-foot-long, 6,000-pound reusable craft capable of reaching Mach 6.

“[Talon-A] will conduct long-duration flight at high Mach, and glide back for an autonomous, horizontal landing on a conventional runway. It will also be capable of autonomous takeoff, under its own power, via a conventional runway,” according to Stratolaunch.

The world’s largest aircraft conducted a successful first flight over California’s Mojave Desert in April 2019, Fox News has previously reported.

While Stratolaunch calls its aircraft the world’s largest, other airplanes exceed it in length from nose to tail. They include the six-engine Antonov AN 225 cargo plane, which is 275.5 feet long, and the Boeing 747-8, which is just over 250 feet long.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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