Stratolaunch “Roc” close to flying again

Aircraft with the largest wingspan in the world completed two years since its only flight

“Roc”, the world’s largest aircraft by wingspan is about to hit the skies again. Stratolaunch conducted taxi tests with the massive six-engine plane on Friday in preparation for its second flight.

According to the company, the double fuselage jet hit 110 knots (203 kph) on the runway at California’s Mojave airport.

In a post on Twitter, Stratolaunch stated that “We continue to test as we prepare for our next flight. It always feels good to be out of the hangar, but even better to be in the air. Soon.”

The company’s giant aircraft was designed and built by Scaled Composites to be a rocket launcher into space. The company was founded by Bill Gates’ former partner at Microsofot, Paul G. Allen, who passed away in October 2018.

After extensive tests, “Roc” made its first flight on April 13, 2019, but at that time the company was experiencing financial problems, which culminated in its sale to undisclosed investors.

Under new direction, Stratolaunch has changed the focus of its business and has since offered hypersonic vehicle launch services.

The carrier aircraft, as the company calls the “Roc” is made of composite material and uses six PW4056 turbofan engines and a double fuselage to allow the transport of up to 500,000 lbs of payload on its central wing.

The dimensions of the plane are impressive: a wingspan of 385 feet (117 m), a length of 238 gt (73 m), a height of 50 feet (15 m) and a maximum take-off weight of 1,300,000 lbs (almost 590 tons).

The “Roc” thus surpassed the Hughes H-4, the eight-engine seaplane of the eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes, which has 320 feet (97.8 m).

By weight, the Stratolaunch plane is still behind the Antonov An-225, although it offers a similar payload.

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