The aircraft is currently being constructed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen backed Stratolaunch.
Once complete the aircraft is said to have a wingspan of 385 feet, to put that into perspective if you were able to put Roc (it has been named after a mythical bird) in the middle of a football field its wings would extend over both the goal posts by about 15 feet on either sides. Once complete its wing tips will be 123 ft longer than the Airbus A380, the largest passenger plane on the planet.
The carrier plane is being built for Stratolaunch in California’s Mojave Desert by Scaled Composites. KGET 17, NBC’s Bakersfield affiliate, was recently granted “unprecedented access” to a 200,000-square-foot facility at Mojave Air and Space Port where the Roc is being assembled, Aviation Week reported this week.
Microsoft co-founder Allen and Scaled Composites founder Burt Rutan, who designed the initial concept for the Roc, co-founded Stratolaunch Systems in 2011. They also collaborated on the Ansari X Prize-winning SpaceShipOne space plane. The idea is for the aircraft to act as a giant launch pad in the sky, allowing payloads to reach space faster and at a lower cost than existing technologies.
The plane will climb to 30,000 feet and launch a rocket at high altitude, avoiding the huge fuel costs of launching from Earth.
his will then go into orbit as normal and deliver a satellite. Initially, the system is intended to deliver satellites weighing up to about 13,500lbs (6,124 kg) into orbits between 112 miles and 1,243 miles (180 km and 2000 km) above Earth.