QR.bizNewsStratolaunch, the World's Biggest Aircraft, Makes Historic 1st Flight

Stratolaunch, the World's Biggest Aircraft, Makes Historic 1st Flight

Built by California-based company Scaled Composites (owned by Northrop Grumman), the ginormous plane is created to ferry rockets and various types of spacecraft into orbit.

The Scaled Composites Stratolaunch, a huge twin-fuselage aircraft intended for ferrying rockets into the stratosphere, has taken its first flight, officially becoming the largest plane ever built, in terms of wingspan.

Stratolaunch, the world's largest airplane, successfully flew for the first time this morning in a two and a half hour test flight over the Mojave desert.

Stratolaunch took off just before 7 AM PDT from the Mojave Air Space Port (MASP), achieved a maximum speed of 189 miles per hour at an altitude of 17,000 feet.

Built by Stratolaunch Systems Corporation, the company founded by Paul G Allen, late Microsoft co-founder, Stratolaunch has a dual fuselage design. Allen died of lymphoma in October 2018, only a handful of months before his creation could take flight for the first time.

But now Stratolaunch has already signed at least one customer, Northrop Grumman, which plans to use the company's innovation to send its Pegasus XL rocket into space."It was an emotional moment for me, personally, to watch this majestic bird take flight", said Stratolaunch CEO Jean Floyd.

The behemoth Stratolaunch jet lifted off from Mojave Air and Space Port in California at 6:58 a.m. PDT.

Test pilot Evan Thomas said "the flight itself was smooth, which is exactly what you want a first flight to be". "It definitely was ready to fly and wanted to fly", he said.

Mr Thomas said there were "a few little things that were off-nominal but really for a first flight it was spot on".

The aircraft is created to carry as many as three satellite-laden rockets under the center of its enormous wing, which stretches 385ft, or 117m.

The jet is powered by the same type of engines used by Boeing 747s and is created to take off at a maximum weight 589,676 kilograms. Surviving in an aviation museum, it has an approximately 320ft (97.5m) wingspan but is just under 219ft long. To get this beast down a runway and off the ground, the company equipped it with six 747 engines and 28 wheels.

Stratolaunch takeoff

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