The Roc made headlines with its longest test flight to date on Jan. 13. The plane, with its two fuselages and 385-foot wingspan, soared for six hours straight, reaching an altitude of 22,500 feet.
You read that right: The Roc’s wingspan is longer than a football field, and more than 100 feet longer than an A380’s. It’s also as tall as a five-story building and needs more than two miles of runway.
On Twitter, Stratolaunch posted a video of the plane smoothly landing its ninth test flight in the Mojave Desert. Watch:
Roc completed its flight at 2:51 p.m. setting a new record for the longest flight to date at six hours and marking our first time flying outside of the Mojave range! pic.twitter.com/w3FaG9ABkV
— Stratolaunch (@Stratolaunch) January 13, 2023
The plane’s unique design reflects its purpose. It’s meant to carry air-launch-to-orbit rockets and hypersonic vehicles that go faster than the speed of sound.
The fully reusable “separation vehicle” attached between the two fuselages, dubbed Talon-A, will eventually get launched mid-flight. The Jan. 13 Roc flight included a hypersonic Talon-A onboard, but it was not launched.
“Our amazing team is continuing to make progress on our test timeline, and it is through their hard work that we grow closer than ever to safe separation and our first hypersonic flight tests,” said Zachary Krevor, CEO and president for Stratolaunch, in a company press release.
That’s all cool and stuff, but — big plane. Let’s hear more about the big plane!
The Roc is constructed out of composite materials, including portions of disused Boeing 747s and six Pratt & Whitney 747 engines. A reporter for Wired visited the Stratolaunch hangar back in 2018 and described the Roc’s enormity as filling nearly all of a 100,000-square-foot hangar.
Wow! Unfortunately, it’s not likely that the Roc will visit an airport near you anytime soon. It’s built for military and commercial customers, not as a passenger plane.
Instead, we’ll just sit back and watch the ambitious project take flight. Next up in early 2023: launching the Talon. Stay tuned!
By Kathleen St. John, for Scripps News.
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