The Stratolaunch's massive wingspan stretches further than 383 feet, making it significantly longer than a football field and helping to earn the aircraft the distinguished title of not only the largest aircraft in the world, beating out big-bodied competition in service to the US and Russian air forces by a significant margin, but the largest aircraft ever built.
Saturday's flight, which saw the plane reach a maximum speed of 189 miles per hour and altitudes of 17,000 feet, was meant to test its performance and handling qualities, according to Stratolaunch. As per the information provided on the Stratolaunch website, the test flight took off from Mojave Air and Space Port in California at 6:58 am Pacific Time (7:28 pm India time). By 2020 Stratolaunch aims to loft 250-ton rocket ships into the stratosphere to launch satellites.
Igor Korotchenko, editor-in-chief of Russia's National Defence magazine, said Stratolaunch was another example of Washington-backed programs to create opportunities for domination in space.
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Saturday's successful test flight comes after two years of incremental rollouts starting in 2017, with the colossal machine undergoing systems shakedowns, engine tests, and several taxis down the wide runway at Mohave.
The pilots that flew the behemoth of an aircraft had to carry out a long to-do list including flight-control maneuvers and simulating landing approach exercises.
The centre wing of the plane can hold up to 500,000 pounds in weight. While it does have the largest wingspan, it does not have the longest nose-to-tail length.
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Hoping to manufacture a high-altitude launch pad providing convenient, affordable, airline-style access to space, Stratolaunch Systems Corporation was created in 2011 by Microsoft's billionaire co-founder Paul Allen, who passed away past year.
"We all know Paul would have been proud to witness today's historic achievement", said Jody Allen, trustee of the Paul G. Allen Trust.
"The aircraft is a remarkable engineering achievement, and we congratulate everyone involved". "This is about going to the edge of space and beyond!" tweeted Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA Science Mission Directorate.
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