'World's Biggest' Plane Flies for the First Time

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 California

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 California

Called Roc, the plane took off at 6:58 a.m. PDT (13:58 GMT) and flew for two and a half hours, reaching an altitude of 5,180m and a full speed of 304 km/h, a statement from Stratolaunch said. Stratolaunch, a 500,000-pound plane with a 385-foot wingspan that is built to send rockets into orbit around the Earth, lifted off shortly after 10AM ET from Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California. It landed 2 1/2 hours later at the airport, The Verge reported.

The duel-fuselage Stratolaunch is created to fly to an altitude of 35,000 feet, where it can drop rockets that ignite their engines and boost themselves into orbit around the planet.

Stratolaunch recently dropped plans to develop its own line of rockets and will focus on launching Northrop Grumman's Pegasus XL.

Jean Floyd, Stratolaunch Systems chief executive, said the aircraft made a "spectacular" landing that was on the mark. Thomas said this flight started out like those previous tests until they throttled up and did a rotation maneuver to take off. "It flew very much like we had simulated and like we predicted".

Paul Allen co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975. "From uncovering better climate data to protecting endangered species to solving humanitarian challenges, the potential benefits of data collected from satellites are world-altering". To get this beast down a runway and off the ground, the company equipped it with six 747 engines and 28 wheels.

Syria's air defenses intercept missiles near city of Hama
Several Iranian fighters were killed and 17 Syrian troops and members of allied forces were injured, the Observatory said. A column of smoke arising from a reported Israeli strike on a military target near Damascus, Syria, on May 10.

The Stratolaunch aircraft emerged from its Mojave hangar for the first time in May 2017 and proceeded through ground tests, including taxiing and rolling down a runway at near-takeoff speeds.

Stratolaunch Systems is owned by Vulcan, which manages the estate of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who died in October after complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

"Without a doubt, he would have been exceptionally proud to see his aircraft take flight", Floyd said. "Even though he wasn't there today, I did whisper a 'thank you".

"Overall, we're very pleased with how the Stratolaunch aircraft performed", said Zachary Krevor, vice president of engineering at Stratolaunch.

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