Stratolaunch, the World's Biggest Aircraft, Makes Historic 1st Flight

Virgin Orbit plans to use a customized Boeing 747-400 to compete with Stratolaunch

The plane flew for two and a half hours before landing back in Mojave, reaching a top speed of 278 kilometers per hour and altitude of 4,570 meters.

The plane is created to drop rockets and other space vehicles weighing up to 500,000 pounds at an altitude of 35,000 feet and has been billed by the company as making satellite deployment as "easy as booking an airline flight".

"What a fantastic first flight", said Jean Floyd, CEO of Stratolaunch.

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".

Founded by the late Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen, Stratolaunch is vying to be a contender in the satellite launch market.

With the Stratolaunch, an aircraft that transports its artifacts between its two fuselages, the great advantage is its vast capacity of external transport.

The behemoth, twin-fuselage Stratolaunch jet lifted off from Mojave Air and Space Port shortly before 7 a.m. on April 13, and climbed into the desert sky 70 miles (112 kilometres) north of Los Angeles.

What just happened? The Stratolaunch is a big aircraft created to carry rockets into the stratosphere and yesterday it completed its first flight.

The airplane's six Pratt & Whitney engines and 28-wheel landing gear were originally designed for Boeing 747s, but aerospace company Scaled Composites worked alongside Stratolaunch and repurposed three 747s to put it together. The American business magnate, who co-founded Microsoft along with Bill Gates in 1975, died of cancer in October a year ago at the age of 65. Cheap to the extent that it becomes as easy as booking an airline flight ticket.

The aircraft's wingspan measures 385 feet - wider than any airplane on the planet.

The massive, twin-fuselage Stratolaunch jet created to air-launch rockets into orbit lifted off from Mojave Air and Space Port early Saturday.

The aircraft taking off from Mojave, California. It's so large that it needs two cockpits and it's powered by six Boeing 747 engines.

If all goes as planned, Stratolaunch said the plane is expected to launch its first satellite sometime next year.

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