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World's biggest plane takes flight as mobile launchpad for satellites
15 April 2019, 08:01 | Hattie Nash
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On its test flight on Saturday, the aircraft - called the Stratolaunch - reached speeds of 304 km/h and altitudes of up to 17,000 feet. The dual-fuselage plane has a wingspan of 385 feet and is now the largest aircraft by wingspan to ever take to the skies.
A release had the unbelievable milestone of Stratolaunch announced.
"What a fantastic first flight", Stratolaunch Chief Executive Officer Jean Floyd said in a statement posted to the company's website.
It landed safely back at the Mojave Air and Space Port as a crowd of hundreds of people cheered.
Regarding initial results from Saturday's test flight, Stratolaunch said the plane 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.
It's a novel idea which has already seen the company sign up its first customer in Northrop Grumman, which plans to use Stratolaunch to send its Pegasus XL rocket into space.
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Last week, Southwest Airlines made a similar move and United Airlines has also cancelled 737 Max 8 flights until June. Two days after the plane went down, he tweeted that these days jetliners are "becoming far too complex to fly".
Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975, announced in 2011 that he had formed the privately funded Stratolaunch. However, when it comes to planes, it appears the industry is moving in the opposite direction as they are not only trying to fit more passengers into planes for long-distance flights but now also creating massive planes in which to launch rockets from. The reinforced center wing can support multiple launch vehicles, weighing up to a total of 500,000 pounds, according to the venture. The aim of the company was to bring "airline-style access to space" as a viable alternative to launch systems that are ground-based.
"We all know Paul would have been proud to witness today's historic achievement", said Jody Allen, trustee of the Paul G. Allen Trust.
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