The "Roc" – the largest aircraft in the world by Stratolaunch Systems – went for its second test run yesterday with spectators applauding its takeoff from Mojave Air and Space Port. It has a 385-foot wingspan – wider than the length of a football field – and six engines, according to Vice.
Named the "Roc" after the giant mythological bird that could carry elephants in its talons … It's so wide, the company had to construct a custom hanger for it to fit into.
It flew for the first time in April 2019, shortly after Stratolaunch Systems founder Paul Allen's death. After its first flight and left without a founder, Stratolaunch stopped operations and sold the company. The Roc was originally meant to carry and launch spacecraft and their satellite payloads from mid-flight, giving rockets a boost on their way to orbit, but the company's new owners turned to developing a hypersonic rocket known as the Talon-A.
And from Space.com:
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.
If all goes according to plan, the first drop tests with Roc and a Talon-A test article will occur early next year. An expendable version of Talon-A will reach hypersonic speeds later in 2022, and the first flight with the reusable Talon-A variant will follow in 2023, said Stratolaunch chief technology officer Daniel Millman.
… The Roc stayed aloft for 3 hours and 14 minutes today (April 29).