World's largest aircraft capable of launching vehicles in space successfully flight-tested


The world's largest plane, operated by aerospace venture Stratolaunch, finished its first flight examination on Saturday.

"What a fantastic first flight", Stratolaunch's chief executive Jean Floyd said in a statement on Saturday.

The behemoth, twin-fuselage Stratolaunch jet took off from Mojave Air and Space Port and climbed into the desert sky 112 kilometres north of Los Angeles.

With twin fuselages and a wing of a size of a football field, the very big "Stratolaunch" plane is created to make propelling rockets into space easier and cheaper than traditional ground-based launch pads. Stratolaunch, which was founded by Allen, is vying to be a contender in the market for air-launching small satellites.

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The aircraft built by Stratolaunch is created to act as a flying launch pad for satellites.

Test Pilot Evan Thomas told reporters after the first flight that, "The flight itself was smooth, which is exactly what you want the first flight to be, and for the most part, the airplane flew as predicted, which is again exactly what we want". Thomas said this flight started out like those previous tests until they throttled up and did a rotation maneuver to take off. The plane then will land safety back at Mojave, while the rocket carries the satellite into an orbit ranging from about 300 miles to 1,200 miles above Earth. Allen died of lymphoma in October 2018, only a handful of months before his creation could take flight for the first time. It's got six engines, two fuselages and a wingspan wider than a football pitch. The aircraft performed a variety of flight control maneuvers to calibrate speed and test flight control systems, including roll doublets, yawing maneuvers, pushovers and pull-ups, and steady heading side slips. Surviving in an aviation museum, it has an approximately 320-foot (97.5-meter) wingspan but is just less than 219 feet (67 meters) long.

If fruitful, such a task would be a less expensive approach to release objects into space than rockets terminated from the ground.

While Stratolaunch calls its aircraft the world's largest, other airplanes exceed it in length from nose to tail. 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. Until now, it had just carried out tests on the ground.