It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s… two planes? No, it’s the Roc, aerospace firm Stratolaunch’s massive carrier plane. Like the giant mythological bird it is named after, the Roc is an absolute behemoth. And it now has two test flights under its presumably monumental belt.
Roc you like a hurricane
Getting a thing like this in the air is no small task. The Roc is the largest plane in the world in terms of wingspan, because its purpose is to carry Stratolaunch’s Talon-A, a near 3-tonne hypersonic vehicle meant to zip around the atmosphere at Mach speeds for various tasks and tests. It’s also able to land automatically, though not vertically like SA’s own Pegasus. The Talon-A is 28 feet (9 meters) long and 14 feet (4.5 meters) wide, and its carrier carrier aircraft has a wingspan double the length of a Boeing 747’s, at 385 feet (118 meters), and is powered by 6 engines.
Touchdown!! Successful flight tests to round out the day. What a beautiful sight. pic.twitter.com/gdssjvoN8x
— Stratolaunch (@Stratolaunch) April 29, 2021
Being a test flight, the Roc was unencumbered by the Talon-A, and successfully flew payload-free over the Mojave Desert, California, at a peak altitude of 2.6 miles (4.2 kilometres). The massive craft touched down after a little over 3 hours of flying, at a fittingly huge runway at Mojave’s Air and Space port. Stratolaunch noted that one side of the plane touched down slightly before the other. Every detail is important in a test with something this big, heavy, and expensive.
The flight was intended to test safety features, hardware, and how the Roc managed cabin pressure. Chief Operating Officer Zachary Krevor told reporters, “Today’s flight, at first review, has appeared extremely successful. We accomplished all test points as desired, we have not seen anything anomalous, and we are very pleased with the condition of the aircraft upon landing.”
Source: The Verge