Scaled Composites…

Is at it again! Stratolaunch Roc flew for the second time yesterday!

Stratolaunch Corporation Photo

The world’s widest plane featuring two separate fuselages had its second test flight Thursday, marking a successful venture for Stratolaunch’s Roc carrier plane.

The giant plane features a wingspan of 385 feet and six engines. It took off from Mojave Air and Space Port in southeastern California on a data-gathering flight that lasted three hours and 14 minutes.

Full article, HERE.

That is one HUGE airplane! Burt Rutan started Scaled Composites and designed a number of innovative aircraft, including the VariEze and LongEze. His brother, Dick Rutan was a Misty FAC in Vietnam, and test pilot for many years, including setting numerous records, including flying Voyager (Burt Rutan design) around the world with Jeana Yeager. That’s a helluva aviation family!!!


Scaled Composites… — 16 Comments

  1. Hey Old NFO;

    Very impressive airplane and family, but I’m surprised that they are still in California, because how hostile the business climate is out there, I’m surprised they haven’t moved yet.

  2. You would not get me on that plane, to only trust the center wing span to hold the two fuselages together. I want two or even three points of connections between the fuselages. And why two cockpits? In case it disconnects in flight?

    • Why not two cockpits? If I recall correctly those are highly modified bodies of existing aircraft, they weren’t built from scratch, so why would you take it out?

      Also, you need observers in both fuselages, because the payload sits in the center. Further, do we know for sure that there are controls in both cockpits? It would make sense to have them, in case of emergencies, but that doesn’t mean that they actually installed them.

      If it disconnects in flight, everyone will die. There is no flying something that big after a catastrophic failure. Though the odds of it breaking apart in flight, are pretty slim. It is more likely to break apart on the ground while being towed.

      In the air the wing is the supporting structure, the two fuselages become nothing more than hanging loads from it. As long as they stay out of the weather, I doubt they’ll have any issues with it.

  3. Bob- Operating environment… There is NOTHING out there if they have an issue. And plenty of desert to land in if there is problem.

    Cederq- Interesting point, I hadn’t thought about it in that light. In turbulence, that ‘could’ get interesting!

    John- Good point!

    • It would probably break. The moment arm on those fuselages has got to be pretty significant due to the weights involved. Having them separate means you can have the flight computer trim them separately to cut down on wing torque. If you had them solid, you couldn’t do that and all the force would be transferred to the empennage, which would probably lead to a structural failure.

  4. We are seeing the bird without the 500,000 lb design payload hanging in the center so that center section is a LOT stronger than if the payload was in the fuselages, and there isn’t anything in the rear to get caught on release.

    I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the fuel tanks were all in the fuselages and the wings were dry. They have more than enough volume on each side.

    Another plus for the location is the Mojave/Edwards/Palmdale area is high tech heaven for aviation. Lockheed’s Skunkworks is still down there and there is a huge population of skilled labor that built the B2, Space Shuttles, and SpaceX rockets.

  5. Would it be offensive for me to applaud the lunacy of that?

    Because that is impressively daring.

    Obviously, I have no information about how well it flies, safety record, etc. If they pull it off, it isn’t crazy.

    Standard design assumptions are reliably safe, and all, but it is really neat when someone finds a good place for an unusual approach.

    • To a pylon at the center of the wing. They can just roll the big bird over the payload(s) on the tarmac and lift them to the mount point. Much easier logistics than a top mount, plus how do you balance half a million pounds on a pylon? For the size payloads they want to lift this is almost the only practical design.

  6. “And plenty of dessert to land in if there is problem.” If the dessert is lemon pie, it’s gonna have to be HUGE. (I couldna resist.) I’ll see that pie, and raise you a whole BUNCH of Oreos.

    OK, my “silly” has worn off. (It’s been a very slow day for me.)

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