Go Big or Stay Home!
When I first learned the largest airplane in the world was The Roc made by Stratolaunch, my next question was, “Why?” There had to be some reason a company would build something this large. Imagine the size of the runways needed to get this large contraption into the air. Where do you store something this size?
I have learned quite a bit about hypersonic travel lately, starting with the basics, anything over Mach 5 (over five times the speed of sound) is considered hypersonic. The push for hypersonic travel seems to be burning the press wire lately. In an earlier article, I wrote about a company looking to develop a space plane able to achieve Mach 9:
So what does hypersonic travel have to do with “The Roc.” You might say, “Certainly, this plane can’t achieve hypersonic speed!” You would be correct! The Roc’s purpose is to be a carrier of vehicles and aircraft that can achieve hypersonic speeds. Apparently, “The Roc” addresses a growing need with these new hypersonic vehicles. Testing these vessels from a fixed location opens up these craft to numerous possible delays. The Roc becomes a mobile launching platform that avoids these delays, such as weather concerns, runway reservations, and, more importantly, no more need for fixed locations.
With 12 or more missions per year, we’re ready to launch when you are. While fixed-range launches are typically scheduled years in advance, Stratolaunch can have your payload tested in months — meaning booking space for your payload is just about as easy as booking a seat on a flight. Running late? We can accept your payload mere days ahead of launch.
Once 35,000 feet is obtained, this large airplane carrier will become the base of operations for launching these hypersonic capable planes. With a payload of 500,000 pounds, The Roc becomes the most enormous flying rock ever!
So just how giant is “The Roc”? Coming in at 384ft in wingspan, this exceeds the second-largest airplane, Howard Hughes's beloved “Spruce Goose,” at 320ft. The width of this plane is longer than the length of a 100-yard football field, coming in at 128 yards. The plane itself stands 50ft tall or a 5-story building. To displace the weight load, this aircraft has no less than 28 wheels while also fitted with six 747 Boeing engines; make no mistake, this aircraft will remain airborne while carrying tremendous amounts of cargo. Expect to travel up to 1000 nautical miles with these powerful engines.
So, how big of a hangar is needed to house “The Roc”? The hangar accounts for 103,256 square feet in square footage while featuring the world’s widest garage door.
In many of my previous articles, the focus was on sustainability and zero or reduced carbon emissions. It is fair to say “The Roc” meets none of this. Perhaps in future iterations, we will see some strides to become more environmentally responsible as technology progresses. For now, their focus is on going hypersonic!
Added Note: Stratolaunch calls this aircraft “The Roc,” based on Sinbad’s bird by the same name. In Arabian mythology, this mythical bird could carry an elephant.