An odd-looking, double-bodied airplane with a wingspan as long as a football field just took to the skies today (April 13) from the Mojave Air & Space Port in California.
A giant six-engine aircraft with the world's longest wingspan has taken off from California on its first flight.
Though Stratolaunch is the largest plane by wingspan, another craft, the helium-filled Airlander 10, takes the title of the longest aircraft now flying with a length of 302 feet (92 m). The aircraft is created to take rockets weighing as much as 400,000 pounds to 35,000 feet for launch and will tap into the burgeoning market for communications, reconnaissance and broadband satellites being put between 300 and 1,200 miles in altitude. 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. Mr Allen died in October 2018.
The trial has been spotted by photographers at the Mojave Air and Space Port.
"We all know Paul would have been proud to witness today's historic achievement".
"The aircraft is a remarkable engineering achievement and we congratulate everyone involved".
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The aircraft has a wingspan of 385 ft (117 m) and a length of 238 ft (73 m).
The pilot Evan Thomas told reporters the experience was "fantastic" and that "for the most part, the airplane flew as predicted".
It's powered by the same type of engines used by Boeing 747s, and is created to take off at a maximum weight of 1.3 million pounds (589,676 kilograms).
It features twin fuselages - sort of the aeroplane equivalent of a catamaran - that span 72.5 meters long.
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.
"Today's flight furthers our mission to provide a flexible alternative to ground launched systems, Floyd said".