Space Newsfeed

Satellite Communications Technology


Stratolaunch completes first low-speed taxi test

(18 December 2017 - Stratolaunch) This past weekend marked another major milestone in the Stratolaunch aircraft’s journey to flight with our first low-speed taxi test. For the first time, the aircraft traveled down the runway under its own power, utilizing all six Pratt & Whitney turbofan engines.

The primary purpose of this activity was to test the aircraft’s ability to steer and stop. Our ground team monitored a number of systems, including steering, braking, anti-skid and telemetry. We are excited to report all objectives of this test were achieved – culminating to the aircraft traveling down the runway at 25 knots (28 miles per hour).

stratolaunch 1

Stratolaunch aircraft completing its first taxi test. (courtesy: Stratolaunch Systems)

“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,” said George Bugg, aircraft program manager, Stratolaunch Systems Corp.

Since the first engine runs in September, the team has performed a series of engine tests from the newly established Stratolaunch Mission Control Center (MCC), located at our facility at the Mojave Air & Space Port. The MCC serves as our hub for testing communications and will eventually be the center of our aircraft and launch operations.

Once we have safely completed low-speed taxi tests, we will begin the next phase of taxi testing which will include increased speeds.

About Stratolaunch Systems

Stratolaunch Systems Corp. (SSC), founded in 2011 by Paul G. Allen, is developing an air-launch platform to make access to space more convenient, reliable, and routine. We believe that normalizing access to low Earth orbit (LEO) has the potential to redefine our lives by creating more opportunities for commercial, philanthropic and governmental organizations to collect rich and actionable data and drive advancements in science, research, and technology from space.

The Stratolaunch aircraft is currently being constructed and tested by Scaled Composites within SSC facilities at the Mojave Air & Space Port. Stratolaunch launch vehicles are being supplied by Orbital ATK of Dulles, Virginia.