World's largest plane makes first flight

World's largest plane makes first flight

The world's largest aircraft successfully completed its first test flight on Saturday.

The very big, six-engine aircraft known as Stratolaunch has a 385-foot wingspan, weighs about 500,000 pounds and is the dream of late Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen. "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".

"What a fantastic first flight", said Jean Floyd, CEO of Stratolaunch. The enormous Stratolaunch has the largest wingspan in the world at 117.3 meters (384.8 feet), significantly larger than the previous record holder, the Antonov An-225 "Mriya" heavy lift cargo aircraft.

The company said the jet hit altitudes of up to 17,000 feet above the Mojave Desert while performance and handling qualities were evaluated. The American business magnate, who co-founded Microsoft along with Bill Gates in 1975, died of cancer in October past year at the age of 65.

The dual-fuselage Stratolaunch, which has six Boeing 747 engines, is created to launch rockets into orbit from an altitude of 35,000 feet.

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"Today's flight furthers our mission to provide a flexible alternative to ground launched systems", Floyd said. "I honestly could not have hoped for more on a first flight, especially of an airplane of this complexity and this uniqueness".

"It's so huge, it seems like it shouldn't be able to fly", aerospace and launch photographer for NASASpaceFlight.com Jack Beyer told CNN.

At an altitude of 35,000 feet (10,668 metres), the rockets would be released, ignite their engines and soar into space.

In other words, this isn't your typical airplane.

Thomas said there were "a few little things that were off-nominal but really for a first flight it was spot-on". "People want to see what's next". "Together with Stratolaunch, we have reached another aviation first by flying the world's largest all‐composite aircraft and moving closer to increasing the accessibility of space launch". To save money on designing new engines and landing gear, the jet is powered by six Pratt & Whitney engines, which were originally designed for Boeing 747s. The company initially planned to develop its own fleet of rockets but scrapped the plan in January, CNBC report says.

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