For the first time in eight months, the world’s largest airplane—Stratolaunch’s Roc—performed taxi tests Thursday at California’s Mojave Air & Spaceport, north of Los Angeles.
The one-of-a-kind, twin-fuselage, six-engine behemoth was spotted rolling down the facility’s 12,000-foot runway, in preparation for its next flight, which is expected within several weeks.
The Roc carrier aircraft is on the runway at @MojaveAirport today completing taxi testing. Taxi tests ensure the vehicle, communications, and subsystems are functioning properly and the team is fully ready for the next test flight.#LetsRoc #FlightTest pic.twitter.com/sxX6kCHbh3— Stratolaunch (@Stratolaunch) January 6, 2022
“We’re checking all of the communications, the vehicle’s airworthiness, all of the subsystems, making sure that they all function properly and that the plane is fully ready,” Stratolaunch spokesperson Kate Squires told FLYING.
On board the airplane were pilots Evan Thomas and Mark Giddings—who flew Roc during previous test flights. Dean Spahr, Brandon Cangiano, and Jake Riley also were on the flight deck.
The taxi tests were expected to last about eight hours, she said, and may continue if required during the coming days.
Later this year, it’s scheduled to perform its intended role as a midair launch platform for hypersonic test vehicles. Roc is expected to provide “threat replication” for research by the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency to help scientists understand how to engage and intercept hypersonic weapons.
Roc, with wings measuring 385 feet, assumed the title of the world’s largest airplane by wingspan when it first flew in 2019.