Stratolaunch Carries Out First Flight of 'World's Largest Aircraft'

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At 6:58 a.m. PST (13:58 GMT) April 13, 2019, Scaled Model 351 took to the skies above the Mojave Desert, demonstrating that it was ready to ferry up to three Northrop Grumman Pegasus XL air-launched rockets.

The impressive machine spent two and a half hours in the air during the test flight, reaching speeds of 189 mph (304 km/h), not almost as much as the world's fastest supercars.

Jean Floyd, the chief executive of Stratolaunch, said: "It was an emotional moment to personally watch this majestic bird take flight. without a doubt, he [Allen] would have been proud". The flight was successful. "Today's flight furthers our mission to provide a flexible alternative to ground launched systems". Saturday's flight of the massive Stratolaunch aircraft will likely not encounter the same fate. The reinforced center wing can support multiple launch vehicles, weighing up to a total of 500,000 pounds, according to the venture.

Moreover, it conducted simulated landing approach exercises at a max altitude of 15,000 feet mean sea level. The company aims to make access to orbit more affordable and accessible by launching satellites into space from aircraft, rather than from the ground.

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.

"We all know Paul would have been proud to witness today's historic achievement", said Jody Allen, Paul's sister and chairwoman of Vulcan Inc., one of Paul Allen's companies. Dozens of photographers, industry bloggers and aerospace enthusiasts gathered this week to glimpse the unique twin-fuselage plane.

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