Gigantic Stratolaunch aircraft makes 2nd test flight

Science

The Stratolaunch aircraft, a six-engine jet with the world’s longest wingspan lands at Mojave Air and Space Port during craft’s second flight, Thursday, April 29, 2021in Mojave, Calif. The gigantic aircraft has flew for the second time in two years. (AP Photo/Matt Hartman)

MOJAVE, Calif. (AP) — The gigantic Stratolaunch aircraft flew Thursday for its second time, taking to the skies over the Southern California desert

The six-engine jet with the world’s longest wingspan took off from 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 at about 7:30 a.m.

The behemoth safely touched down on its 28 wheels about three hours later and Stratolaunch called the flight test a success.

Named Roc, the twin-fuselage aircraft has a wingspan of 385 feet (117 meters). It was developed by Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen, who died just months before it flew for the first time in April 2019.

Allen intended to use it as a carrier aircraft for space launches, carrying satellite-laden rockets beneath 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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