Stratolaunch, the aerospace venture founded by the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, sent the world’s biggest airplane into the air today for its first flight test.
The twin-fuselage plane, which incorporates parts from two Boeing 747 jumbo jets and has a world-record wingspan of 385 feet, took off from Mojave Air and Space Port in California for a flight that lasted two and a half hours.
Built for hauling rockets aloft to launch satellites, the world’s biggest airplane landed Saturday after a widely-anticipated test flight over California’s Mojave Desert, six months after the death of billionaire benefactor Paul Allen clouded the future of the project.
The dual-fuselage, six-engine aircraft took off from the Mojave Air and Space Port shortly at 6:58 a.m. PDT (9:58 a.m. EDT; 1358 GMT) and flew for about two-and-a-half hours, reaching an altitude of around 17,000 feet (5,200 meters) and a top speed of 189 mph (304 kilometers per hour), the company said in a media briefing after the flight.
The Stratolaunch aircraft, nicknamed “Roc,” is designed to carry rockets high into the atmosphere, providing a head start in altitude and velocity for satellites going into orbit around Earth.