This thing is a beast.
Aerospace company Stratolaunch has managed to get its Roc aircraft off the ground for the second time this morning.
The twin-fuselage aircraft, currently the jet with the world’s widest wingspan at a colossal 385 feet, took to the skies over the Mojave desert in Southern California at about 7:30 am local time.
Journalists at the scene were able to witness the impressive launch first hand from the sidelines, a testament to the cutting edge of aerospace engineering.
Stratolaunch's Roc, the world's largest airplane (and built to launch rockets), just took off for its second ever test flight: pic.twitter.com/v60OhFRJa8
— Michael Sheetz (@thesheetztweetz) April 29, 2021
The gigantic plane is designed to launch more than one hypersonic rocket from a high altitude. Rockets being released from these heights require far less fuel to get into orbit.
The flight test is going well. All results are as expected. pic.twitter.com/TrvqtVFulD
— Stratolaunch (@Stratolaunch) April 29, 2021
A reusable hypersonic prototype vehicle capable of Mach 6 flights, called the Talon-A, is already in development.
The left fuselage is uncrewed, while the right fuselage accommodates both the pilot and the co-pilot. It’s powered by six used Boeing 747 engines and weighs in at 500,000 pounds.
The beast was first shown off back in 2017 by Stratolaunch founder (and Microsoft co-founder) Paul Allen.
It successfully completed its maiden voyage in 2019.
“The flight itself was smooth, which is exactly what you want a first flight to be,” test pilot Evan Thomas told The Verge at the time, adding, “it flew very much like we had simulated and like we predicted.”
More on Stratolaunch: See the World’s Biggest Airplane Nail Its First Test Flight