Aerospace company Stratolaunch has bold plans to launch swift and repeatable hypersonic flights from its massive Roc carrier aircraft, and has now taken an important step forward with these ambitions. The plane’s latest outing saw a hypersonic test vehicle integrated into its center wing pylon for a maiden captive carry flight, with the company now planning a separation test in the near future.

With side-by-side fuselages and a wingspan of 385 ft (117 m), the Roc aircraft is the world’s largest plane and last week’s test flight was its eighth flight overall. Stratolaunch plans to use the plane as a carrier aircraft to release smaller vehicles from its center wing pylon, which would be used to carry out research on hypersonic flight.

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Called Talon-A, the vehicle was revealed in 2020. The idea is to have Roc carry this into the sky and release it from the air, seeing it travel at speeds in excess of Mach 5 and at altitudes of 35,000 ft before landing autonomously on a runway. An unpowered version of this, called TA–0, was then revealed earlier this year, which Stratolaunch is using to test out the release system on the Roc’s belly.