“Roc”, the world’s largest aircraft by wingspan is about to hit the skies again. Stratolaunch conducted taxi tests with the massive six-engine plane on Friday in preparation for its second flight.
According to the company, the double fuselage jet hit 110 knots (203 kph) on the runway at California’s Mojave airport.
In a post on Twitter, Stratolaunch stated that “We continue to test as we prepare for our next flight. It always feels good to be out of the hangar, but even better to be in the air. Soon.”
The company’s giant aircraft was designed and built by Scaled Composites to be a rocket launcher into space. The company was founded by Bill Gates’ former partner at Microsofot, Paul G. Allen, who passed away in October 2018.
Today's taxi tests had Roc reaching speeds of 110 Knots (~127 MPH) throughout the morning and early this afternoon. After reaching these speeds for taxi test, we're gearing up to hit the skies. pic.twitter.com/x05TSb5KSW— Stratolaunch (@Stratolaunch) April 16, 2021
Under new direction, Stratolaunch has changed the focus of its business and has since offered hypersonic vehicle launch services.
The carrier aircraft, as the company calls the “Roc” is made of composite material and uses six PW4056 turbofan engines and a double fuselage to allow the transport of up to 500,000 lbs of payload on its central wing.
The dimensions of the plane are impressive: a wingspan of 385 feet (117 m), a length of 238 gt (73 m), a height of 50 feet (15 m) and a maximum take-off weight of 1,300,000 lbs (almost 590 tons).
The “Roc” thus surpassed the Hughes H-4, the eight-engine seaplane of the eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes, which has 320 feet (97.8 m).
By weight, the Stratolaunch plane is still behind the Antonov An-225, although it offers a similar payload.