The world's largest aircraft Stratolaunch has completed its first test flight on Saturday in California. During the two-and-a-half-hour flight, the model reached an altitude of over 5,000 meters and a top speed of 300 kilometers per hour, according to the company Stratolaunch Systems Corporation. The huge plane with a wing span of 117 meters was launched from the Space Port airport in the Mojave Desert and landed easily after the test flight – “gently and precisely”, as it was said. The “Roc”, named after a mythical creature, provided for euphoria in the entire Stratolaunch team.
“What a fantastic first flight,” said Stratolaunch boss Jean Floyd. The flight is now expanding the possibilities for alternatives to missile launches from the ground. “I'm so proud of this historic day,” he tweeted later. Test pilot Evan Thomas was thrilled with the first flight. “I could not have asked for a better test flight of an airplane of this size, complexity and uniqueness.”
The plane is supposed to carry satellites to the edge of space
Stratolaunch is a massive carrier aircraft from which satellites are to be launched by launcher from altitudes in excess of 10,000 meters. This would save considerable costs and time as rocket launches from the ground are far more expensive and also dependent on the weather.
The machine, which included parts of old Boeing 747 aircraft, has two hulls and six engines. Up to three launchers with a total weight of up to almost 227 tons can be attached to the connecting piece between the two hulls. The previous construction costs are unknown.
Microsoft co-founder and space investor Paul Allen, who died last October, launched the project in 2011. “We know that Paul would have proudly followed today's historic achievement,” said Jody Allen of the Paul Allen Trust.