The world's biggest airplane designed to carry air-launch-to-orbit rockets and hypersonic vehicles just completed its longest test flight to date.
The Stratolaunch Roc, developed by Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen and manufactured by U.S. aerospace company Stratolaunch Systems, on January 13 completed its ninth test flight. All of the flights have been in the Mojave Desert, the first in 2019, but this was the first time for the airplane flying outside of the Mojave range, the company said.
The plane is the biggest all-composite plane ever constructed – made out of carbon fiber from two deconstructed Boeing 747-400 jumbo jets that were once flown by United Airlines. It’s designed to take off and land using an airport runway, unlike other hypersonic planes, and has room to carry up to three rockets.
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Measuring around 239 feet in length and 50 feet in height – the plane can carry a total payload of 500,000 pounds and requires a runway that's at least 12,000 feet long.
Roc completed its flight at 2:51 p.m. setting a new record for the longest flight to date at six hours and marking our first time flying outside of the Mojave range! pic.twitter.com/w3FaG9ABkV
— Stratolaunch (@Stratolaunch) January 13, 2023
The aircraft departed from the Mojave Air and Space Port and flew approximately six hours across southeastern California, reaching a maximum altitude of 22,500 feet.
The company said it plans to have its first hypersonic flight and a separation test of the Talon-A vehicle in the first half of 2023.
The company's CEO, Zachary Krevor, said in the release that the plane is "closer than ever" to its first hypersonic flight test.
Camille Fine is a trending visual producer on USA TODAY's NOW team.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: World's largest plane takes flight with a hypersonic vehicle in tow