Stratolaunch’s Roc carrier plane, which is being groomed to haul hypersonic vehicles aloft, conducted its second-ever test flight on April 29.
The giant aircraft, which features a wingspan of 385 feet (117 meters), took off from Mojave Air and Space Port in southeastern California at 10:28 a.m. EDT (1428 GMT; 7:28 local California time) on a data-gathering shakeout cruise that lasted three hours and 14 minutes.
Roc reached a maximum altitude of 14,000 feet (4,267 m) and a top speed of 199 mph (320 kph) during the test flight, which Stratolaunch deemed a success.
“We’re very pleased with how the Stratolaunch aircraft performed today, and we are equally excited about how much closer the aircraft is to launching its first hypersonic vehicle,” Stratolaunch chief operating officer Zachary Krevor said during a postflight news conference today.
Stratolaunch LLC is an American aerospace company providing high-speed flight test services. It was originally formed in 2011 to develop a new air-launched space transportation system, with its corporate headquarters located in Seattle, Washington. The company and development project were officially announced in December 2011 by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and Scaled Composites founder Burt Rutan, who had previously collaborated on the creation of SpaceShipOne.
The company was sold in October 2019 to its current owners, who recast Roc’s role. The plane will now serve as a mobile launch platform for hypersonic vehicles, maneuverable craft that travel at least five times faster than the speed of sound.
The carrier aircraft first flew in April 2019, at the Mojave Air and Space Port, reaching 15,000 ft (4,600 m) and 165 kn (305 km/h) in a 2 h 29 min flight.
(Source: Stratolaunch/ – Image: Roc carrier test flight)