Watch as the biggest airplane on the planet completes its second check flight

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The world’s largest aircraft roared on Thursday, April 29, in its second test flight over California’s Mojave Desert.

Stratolaunch’s insanely large “Roc” plane has a record-breaking wingspan of 117 meters. At 76.3 meters, it is slightly longer than the world’s largest passenger aircraft, the Airbus A380. It also has six engines and 28 wheels.

Roc’s first test flight in two years began and ended at Mojave Air and Space Port about 70 miles north of Los Angeles. The aircraft soared to an altitude of 4,267 meters (14,000 feet) during its 3 hours and 14 minutes in the air, with the team calling the flight a success.

Stratolaunch posted flight highlights in a series of tweets:

We are in the air! pic.twitter.com/6jTkkqfjKd

– Stratolaunch (@Stratolaunch) April 29, 2021

Various flight test maneuvers are currently being carried out. pic.twitter.com/u9uMWzfrEK

– Stratolaunch (@Stratolaunch) April 29, 2021

Just a completely low approach over the runway. pic.twitter.com/UCEINXBQBi

– Stratolaunch (@Stratolaunch) April 29, 2021

Landing!! Successful flight tests round off the day. What a beautiful sight. pic.twitter.com/gdssjvoN8x

– Stratolaunch (@Stratolaunch) April 29, 2021

“Stratolaunch enhances our nation’s ability to be the global leader in the hypersonic market,” said Daniel R. Millman, Stratolaunch’s chief technology officer, in a press release. “Today’s flight brings us one step closer to our promise to provide the world’s leading hypersonic flight test service.”

Stratolaunch was founded in 2011 by the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. The original goal was to build a system for launching small satellites into space. After Cerberus Capital Management, based in New York, took over the company in 2019, Stratolaunch focused on hypersonic testing and research and put access to space in the background.

This week’s test flight helped the team further prepare Roc as a carrier aircraft for the launch of the company’s upcoming hypersonic testbed vehicle, Talon-A (see below).

An illustration of Talon-A, a Mach 6 class vehicle designed to make hypersonic testing more routine. Stratolaunch

Talon-A is described by Stratolaunch as a fully reusable, autonomous, liquid rocket-powered Mach 6 hypersonic vehicle that provides more than 60 seconds of hypersonic flight test conditions before sliding back on a conventional runway for an autonomous landing.

The company’s hypersonic program, announced last year, is developing a variant of the Hadley liquid rocket engine developed by Ursa Major Technologies of Colorado specifically for the Talon-A test bench vehicle.

Stratolaunch is currently developing a Talon-A Separation Test Item, which will be the first Talon-A vehicle carried and approved by Roc, as well as the first Talon-A rocket-propelled vehicle.

“We are focused on safely releasing operational hypersonic vehicles from our carrier aircraft,” said Zachary Krevor, Stratolaunch’s chief operating officer. “Today’s test flight provided valuable insights and data that will help us continue on this journey.”

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