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World’s Largest Plane Makes First Flight Over California

World’s Largest Plane Makes First Flight Over California

"It was an emotional moment for me, to personally watch this majestic bird take flight, to see Paul Allen's dream come to life in front of my very eyes", Floyd told a teleconference briefing.

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.

As part of the initial flight, the pilots evaluated aircraft performance and handling qualities before landing successfully back at the Mojave Air and Space Port.

However, neither Krevor nor Jean Floyd, the chief executive of Stratolaunch, said anything about the test flight program, including when the plane will fly again and how long the overall test program will last. "Today's flight furthers our mission to provide a flexible alternative to ground launched systems".

As taking off from the ground is the most fuel-consuming portion of a rocket launch, the idea of a stratosphere launch is meant to allow for the increase of a rocket's payload, also allowing for a faster turnaround between launches, say specialists at both Stratolaunch and Virgin Orbit, according to a CNBC report. The reinforced centre wing can support multiple launch vehicles, weighing up to a total of 500,000 pounds.

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It was built by an engineering company called Scaled Composites.

Allen founded Stratolaunch Systems in 2011, after funding the development of the experimental air-launched SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 became the first privately built manned rocket to reach space.

At an altitude of 35,000 feet (10,668 metres), the rockets would be released, ignite their engines and soar into space.

Speaking to the media soon after the touchdown, Evan said, the successful flight was the result of the blood, sweat and tears of all the men and women of Stratolaunch who worked tirelessly. "The aircraft flew as predicted, which is exactly what we wanted". It features six Pratt & Whitney PW4056 turbofan engines, a similar type to those being used on the Airbus A300, Boeing 747-400 and Boeing 767.

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.