Giant Stratolaunch aircraft lifts off from California

A giant aircraft with the world’s longest wingspan has landed after its first ever flight

A giant aircraft with the world’s longest wingspan has landed after its first ever flight

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

Allen died last October at age 65 from complications related to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

The Scaled Composites Stratolaunch, a huge twin-fuselage aircraft intended for ferrying rockets into the stratosphere, has taken its first flight, officially becoming the largest plane ever built, in terms of wingspan.

The world's largest plane flew for the first time on Saturday. "We are well on our way towards providing new launch opportunities for small satellites that have waited too long for their ride to space", Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart said Wednesday in a statement. The odd aircraft, built by the legendary aeronautical engineering company Scaled Composites in the Mojave Desert, has two fuselages and is powered by six Boeing 747 engines. The plane flew for two and a half hours before landing back in Mojave, reaching a top speed of 278 kilometers per hour and altitude of 4,570 meters. The plane reached speeds of 189 miles per hour (304 km/h) and performed several flight control maneuvers, including "roll doublets, yawing maneuvers, pushovers and pull-ups, and steady heading side slips", the manufacturer Stratolaunch said in a statement.

In simple terms, the Stratolaunch aircraft is a giant flying launch pad, created to hurtle satellites into low Earth orbit. "Today's flight furthers our mission to provide a flexible alternative to ground-launched systems".

"The aircraft is a remarkable engineering achievement and we congratulate everyone involved".

CEO Jean Floyd said the aircraft made a "spectacular" landing, adding it was awesome to "watch this majestic bird take flight".

Regarding initial results from Saturday's test flight, Stratolaunch said the plane performed a variety of flight control maneuvers to calibrate speed and test flight control systems, including roll doublets, yawing maneuvers, pushovers and pull-ups, and steady heading side slips.

The previous wingspan leader was Hughes' second world war-era eight-engine H4 Hercules flying boat, which was nicknamed the Spruce Goose.

Pence on recent Buttigieg feud: 'He knows better. He knows me.'
Favreau gives 'Star Wars' fans 1st look at 'The Mandalorian'