The world's largest aircraft, developed by aerospace venture Stratolaunch, completed its first flight test on Saturday. The rockets created to be carried aloft by the Stratolaunch will theoretically serve as a cheaper alternative to ground-based launches for certain types of cargo destined for low Earth orbit.
Saturday's successful test flight comes after two years of incremental rollouts starting in 2017, with the colossal machine undergoing systems shakedowns, engine tests, and several taxis down the wide runway at Mohave.
It landed safely back at the Mojave Air and Space Port as a crowd of hundreds of people cheered. Roaring off the runway with corporate executives and aviation enthusiasts cheering, the Stratolaunch eventually attained an altitude of 17,000 feet at a speed of 189 miles per hour.
The plane has a dual fuselage design and its wingspan is greater than the length of an American football field.
"What a fantastic first flight", Stratolaunch Chief Executive Officer Jean Floyd said in a statement posted to the company's website.
"Today's flight furthers our mission to provide a flexible alternative to ground launched systems", he added.
The pilots that flew the behemoth of an aircraft had to carry out a long to-do list including flight-control maneuvers and simulating landing approach exercises. The reinforced center wing can support multiple launch vehicles, weighing up to a total of 500,000 pounds, according to the venture.
Stratolaunch was financed by Paul Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft as a way to get into the market for launching small satellites.
"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.