The biggest airplane ever built now has two flights under its belt.
Stratolaunch’s Roc carrier plane, which is being groomed to haul hypersonic vehicles aloft, conducted its second-ever test flight Thursday morning (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 km/h) during Thursday’s 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.
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen established Stratolaunch in 2011 with the idea that Roc would be used to launch satellites in midair. But Allen died in October 2018 without seeing that vision become reality, or even seeing the twin-fuselage Roc get off the ground. The plane didn’t make its first — and, until today, only — test flight until April 2019.