World's largest airplane completes first test flight

The world's largest all-composite aircraft Stratolaunch, which has the capability to several launch vehicles carrying satellites in space in a single mission, on Sunday successfully completed its maiden test-flight over the Mojave desert in the United States.

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.

The plane, built by Stratolaunch Systems Corp, stayed aloft for more than two hours hitting a top speed of 304km per hour and reached an altitude of 5,182m.

CEO Jean Floyd said the aircraft made a "spectacular" landing, adding it was unbelievable to "watch this majestic bird take flight".

"The Stratolaunch aircraft is a mobile launch platform that will enable airline-style access to space that is convenient, affordable, and routine", according to a press release. Although the jumbo jet won't carry as much as the Stratolaunch, it's still able to serve a significant slice of the market for small satellite launches and it expects to be in business by the middle of this year. The aircraft, built by rocket launch company "Stratolaunch", had its critical first test flight and is created to launch rockets into orbits from the air.

The pilot Evan Thomas told journalists the experience was "awesome" and that " the plane flew as anticipated".

"A historic milestone for the #Stratolaunch team with this record setting aircraft taking flight!" According to Allen, who died October 15, 2018, this system would make satellite launches much easier and faster.

"Without a doubt, he would have been exceptionally proud to see his aircraft take flight", Floyd said. It features six Pratt & Whitney PW4056 turbofan engines, a similar type to those being used on the Airbus A300, Boeing 747-400 and Boeing 767. 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.

The aircraft's wingspan is nearly double that of an Airbus A380. Stratolaunch Systems plans to use the aircraft to launch air-to-space rockets with a weight of up to 500,000 lb (226,796 kg).

With the Stratolaunch, an aircraft that transports its artifacts between its two fuselages, the great advantage is its vast capacity of external transport. Until now, it had just carried out tests on the ground.

  • Anthony Vega