World's largest plane makes first test flight

15 April, 2019, 12:59 | Author: Carlos George
  • Stratolaunch a giant six-engine aircraft with the world’s longest wingspan, makes its historic first flight from the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave Calif. Saturday

The world's largest airplane took its first flight early Saturday.

The twin-fuselage Stratolaunch jet lifted off from Mojave Air and Space Port shortly before 7 a.m. and climbed into the desert sky 70 miles north of Los Angeles.

"We are incredibly proud of the Stratolaunch team, today's flight crew, our partners at Northrup Grumman's Scaled Composites and the Mojave Air and Space Port, " Jean Floyd, Stratolaunch's CEO, said in a statement on the company's website.

The aircraft is created to fly satellite-carrying rockets to an altitude of about 35,000 feet (10,700 m), then release boosters so that they can launch their payloads up to orbit. Allen died of lymphoma in October 2018, only a handful of months before his creation could take flight for the first time.

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.

Following years of development, the six-engine and dual-fuselage jet finally took off for the first time ever from Mojave Air and Space Port in California, USA, at 6:58 am local time.

In the next three years, after completing the test phase, Stratolaunch expects to launch satellite-bearing rockets into space. The idea is to fly the plane to 10 km before releasing satellites into orbit.

The Stratolaunch itself has the largest wingspan of any aircraft on Earth at 385 feet, wider than a football field including the endzones; it even has two dozen feet to spare.

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The test flight on Saturday enabled the Stratolaunch test team to conduct standard aircraft testing exercises.

"We all know Paul would have been proud to witness today's historic achievement".

"The aircraft is a remarkable engineering achievement and we congratulate everyone involved".

Powered by the same type of engines used by Boeing 747s, the aircraft is created to take off at a maximum weight of 1.3m pounds.

The previous wingspan leader was Howard Hughes' World War II-era eight-engine H-4 Hercules flying boat - nicknamed the Spruce Goose.

The company is now developing four different rocket systems, which can be launched to space from the center wing part of the aircraft.

Its wings stretch about 97.5-meters and can still be seen today at an aviation museum in Oregon.

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