World’s largest plane takes to the skies

Ceria Alfonso
Abril 15, 2019

The world's biggest airplane took flight on Saturday.

It stayed in the air for about 2.5 hours over the desert where it was able to attain altitudes of up to 17,000 feet while exhibiting a top speed of 189 mph.

"What a fantastic first flight", said Jean Floyd, CEO of Stratolaunch.

It landed safely back at the Mojave Air and Space Port as a crowd of hundreds of people cheered. Saturday's flight of the massive Stratolaunch aircraft will likely not encounter the same fate. The aim of the company was to bring "airline-style access to space" as a viable alternative to launch systems that are ground-based.

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The plane is created to drop rockets and other space vehicles weighing up to 500,000 pounds at an altitude of 35,000 feet and has been billed by the company as making satellite deployment as "easy as booking an airline flight".

The vital statistic: The plane's 385 foot (117 meter) wingspan is wider than a football field, making it the longest in the world.

Since the demise of Stratolaunch's founder Paul Allen in October 2018, the company has been quietly preparing for the maiden flight of the airborne platform, which is now the largest airplane by wingspan ever two fly. Jody Allen, chair of Vulcan Inc. and Trustee of the Paul G. Allen Trust said, '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". "This is about going to the edge of space and beyond!" tweeted Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA Science Mission Directorate. It is powered by six Boeing 747 engines that give it a payload capacity of over half a million lbs (227,000 tons).

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