In May, the world's largest aircraft Stratolaunch first left the hangar
, and now engineers have successfully tested its six engines
. Each of the engines was launched separately at minimum speed in order to check the correct operation of the fuel mechanisms and make sure that the fuel tanks were properly fastened.
Together with the inspection of engines began testing the flight control system. Reportedly, "at the moment, the maximum limits of movement and speed of deflection of the control surfaces of the wing and stabilizers have been reached."
Also conducted preliminary tests of electrical, pneumatic systems and fire alarm systems. All tests completed successfully.
In the coming months, the Stratolaunch trials will continue. The engines will run at high speeds and in different configurations, after which the steering tests will begin.
Giant aircraft built by Vulcan Aerospace, which was founded in 2011 by billionaire and co-founder of Microsoft Paul Allen. Reusable carrier aircraft to accelerate the first stages of rockets - this is another way to reduce the cost of space launches for launching small satellites into orbit.
The wing span of the Stratolaunch is 117 m (world record), the length of the vessel is 72 m, and its height is 15 m. Its mass is about 226.8 tons. To estimate the size of the aircraft: in terms of wing span it exceeds the International Space Station (108 m), not to mention any small insects like the “Boeing 747” (71 m).
Stratolaunch is designed for a maximum take-off weight of 590 tons. This means that it will be able to lift approximately 250 tons of payload. As already reported in the autumn of 2016
, during the first flight mission, the Stratolaunch will lift into the stratosphere one cruise carrier rocket Pegasus XL manufactured by Orbital ATK. Potentially, the aircraft can lift three such launch vehicles. These missiles have repeatedly demonstrated their reliability in launching satellites into orbit from the B-52 and L-1011 aircraft.