World's largest plane makes first flight over California

Sergio Conner
April 14, 2019

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.

Space observes say that Stratolaunch should be able to pace satellites to a height up to 35,000 feet into the stratosphere.

This handout photograph obtained courtesy of Stratolaunch shows the Stratolaunch plane flying over the California desert, April 13, 2019, the first test flight of the United States company's enormous aircraft whose wingspan is nearly half that of an Airbus A380.

A giant aircraft with the world's longest wingspan took off from California Saturday morning and flew 2 ½ hours, achieving a maximum speed of 189 mph (304 kph).

The Stratolaunch, the world's largest aircraft that just so happens to be created to "enable airline-style access to space", successfully took flight for the first time in the Mojave Desert on April 13. And the payload would sit under the conjoined center wing, which is created to carry up to 500,000 pounds.

Test pilot Evan Thomas said the flight overall was "fantastic" and for the most part the plane flew as predicted.

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The plane reached speeds of 189 miles per hour (304 km/h) and performed several flight control maneuvers, including "roll doublets, yawing maneuvers, pushovers and pull-ups, and steady heading side slips", the manufacturer Stratolaunch said in a statement.

The Stratolaunch itself has the largest wingspan of any aircraft on Earth at 385 feet, wider than a football field including the endzones; it even has two dozen feet to spare.

This aircraft is created to take entire space rockets to the stratosphere for launch. It really just lifted off the ground and definitely was ready to fly and wanted to fly.

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.

Its twin fuselages are 238 feet long, and the aircraft is so big, it has two cockpits - one in each fuselage - although only one is used to fly the plane. Surviving in an aviation museum, it has an approximately 320-foot (97.5-meter) wingspan but is just under 219 feet (67 meters) long.

World's Largest Plane Makes First Test Flight.

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