Worlds's largest plane makes debut, can fly into space

Worlds's largest plane makes debut, can fly into space

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.

Built by California-based company Scaled Composites (owned by Northrop Grumman), the ginormous plane is created to ferry rockets and various types of spacecraft into orbit.

Built by Stratolaunch Systems Corporation, the company founded by Paul G Allen, late Microsoft co-founder, Stratolaunch has a dual fuselage design.

The massive airplane was flown at the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California.

After Allen's death in October 2018, Stratolaunch dropped plans to develop its own type of rocket engine and a family of launch vehicles, focusing instead on getting the giant plane airborne and launching Northrop Grumman's proven Pegasus XL.

"For the most part, the plane flew as predicted", said Thomas, a former F-16 Air Force fighter pilot. "I honestly could not have hoped for more on a first flight, especially of an airplane of this complexity and this uniqueness".

The aircraft is so big its wing span is longer than a football field, or about 1.5 times that of an Airbus A380.

"It's so huge, it seems like it shouldn't be able to fly", aerospace and launch photographer for Jack Beyer told CNN.

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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. "It's the same reason why people tune in each year to watch the Apple keynotes".

The plane flew Saturday for about two and a half hours, Stratolaunch said.

In other words, this isn't your typical airplane.

The jet's landing gear has 28 wheels.

If successful, such a project would be a cheaper way to launch objects into space than rockets fired from the ground.

Stratolaunch's first flight presents the company with a new set of hoops to jump through before it can start doing business.

Mr Thomas said there were "a few little things that were off-nominal but really for a first flight it was spot on".

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