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The world’s largest airplane has accomplished a record-breaking test flight, remaining aloft for six hours above California’s Mojave Desert.
The Stratolaunch Roc carrier plane is designed to hold and launch hypersonic vehicles, able to lifting a payload of 220 tonnes.
With a wingspan of 117 metres – longer than an American football field – the Stratolaunch Roc is powered by six Boeing 747 engines.
“Our amazing team is constant to make progress on our test timeline, and it is thru their exertions that we grow closer than ever to protected separation and our first hypersonic flight tests,” said Stratolaunch CEO Zachary Krevor.
“We’re excited for what’s ahead this yr as we bring our hypersonic flight test service online for our customers and the nation.”
The corporate eventually hopes to make use of the mammoth plane to supply a “convenient, inexpensive, and routine” access to space, much like the tactic utilized by Virgin Orbit.
The flight test from Mojave Air and Space Port in California on Friday was the second during which it had carried Stratolaunch’s Talon-A hypersonic test vehicle, with the firm hoping to perform the firs “drop tests” later this yr.
Throughout the latest test, Stratolaunch’s team practiced manoeuvres and communication sequencing for the primary ever separation test.
The private spaceflight company was founded in 2011 by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who wanted to create space launch “more reliable, inexpensive and accessible than ever before”. Stratolaunch only made its first flight in 2019, which was performed under latest owners following the death of Allen in 2018.