The massive Stratolaunch — an airplane with the world’s longest wingspan, powered by six engines — flew this week for the second time over the Southern California desert.
The catamaran-looking aircraft, which features two cockpits on separate fuselages, took off Thursday from the Mojave Air and Space Port two years after its maiden flight, following a change in ownership and purpose.
“We are airborne,” the Stratolaunch company tweeted about 7:30 a.m.
The plane, a behemoth with a wingspan of 385 feet named Roc, reached a maximum altitude of 14,000 feet and a top speed of 199 mph during Thursday’s test flight, according to Space.com.
It landed safely about three hours later on its 28 wheels — and Stratolaunch called the test a success.
Roc was developed by Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen, who died just months before it flew for the first time in April 2019.
He intended to use it as a carrier aircraft for space launches, transporting satellite-laden rockets under the center of the wing and releasing them at high altitude.
The new owners initially plan to use it as a carrier aircraft for launches of reusable hypersonic flight research vehicles.
Hypersonic describes flights at speeds of at least Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound.
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