World's largest plane makes first test flight

Clay Curtis
April 14, 2019

Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft, founded Stratolaunch Systems Corp.in 2011 after emerging in aerospace by funding the development of the experimental air-launched SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 became the first privately built manned rocket to reach space.

Space observes say that Stratolaunch should be able to pace satellites to a height up to 35,000 feet into the stratosphere.

The 117-meter wide plane took off from a runway in California's Mohave Desert and flew for 2.5 hours at altitudes of up to 5,000 meters at speeds of up to 304 km/h.

The world's largest airplane - a Stratolaunch behemoth with two fuselages and six Boeing 747 engines - made its first test flight on Saturday in California.

However, neither Krevor nor Jean Floyd, the chief executive of Stratolaunch, said anything about the test flight program, including when the plane will fly again and how long the overall test program will last.

This handout photograph obtained courtesy of Stratolaunch shows the Stratolaunch plane flying over the California desert, April 13, 2019, the first test flight of the U.S. company's huge aircraft whose wingspan is nearly half that of an Airbus A380. According to Allen, who died October 15, 2018, this system would make satellite launches much easier and faster. The reinforced centre wing can support multiple launch vehicles, weighing up to a total of 500,000 pounds. "It definitely was ready to fly and wanted to fly and climbed out quickly".

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"The airplane very nicely, smoothly rotated and really just lifted off the ground", he said.

The aircraft is created to release rockets attached to the center of its enormous wing, which stretches 385 feet (117 meters) from tip to tip - a longer wingspan than any other aircraft.

Powered by the same type of engines used by Boeing 747s, the aircraft is created to take off at a maximum weight of 1.3 million pounds (589,676 kilograms).

The widest plane ever built prior to the Stratolaunch was the mid-20th-century H-4 Hercules - aka "Spruce Goose" - built by famous United States aviator Howard Hughes.

While Stratolaunch calls its aircraft the world's largest, other airplanes exceed it in length from nose to tail.

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