The world's largest all-composite aircraft Stratolaunch, which has the capability to several launch vehicles carrying satellites in space in a single mission, on Sunday successfully completed its maiden test-flight over the Mojave desert in the United States. Allen died in October, prompting questions about the initiative's future. "Even though he wasn't there today, I did whisper a 'thank you".
It was not long before Paul Allen, founder of Stratolaunch, could see the first flight of the incredible aircraft created by his company, the giant of two fuselages that is considered by some the largest airplane in the world. The flight lasted for about two and a half hours, in which it reached an altitude of 17,000 ft (5182 m) and a maximum speed of 189 mp/h (304 km/h), according to Stratolaunch Systems.
"For the most part, the plane flew as predicted", said Thomas, a former F-16 Air Force fighter pilot.
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"The airplane felt really nice on the touchdown, gear felt good", Thomas said. "It definitely was ready to fly and wanted to fly", he said.
An audience cheers the first, historic flight of Stratolaunch. He did not specify what those things were, and briefing participants did not take questions.
It is created to carry as many as three satellite-laden rockets under its wings, which stretch about 117 meters.
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The advantages of such air-launch systems include being able to use airports and avoid the limitations of fixed launch sites which can be affected by weather, air traffic and ship traffic on ocean ranges. There's great demand for a way to launch rockets more cheaply and from more locations, and very big aircraft are reusable (unlike many rockets), can take off from most large airports and their flights are less weather dependent.
The six-engine Stratolaunch jet took-off from California on Saturday local time (Sunday AEST). It's powered by the same type of engines used by Boeing 747s, and is created to take off at a maximum weight of 1.3 million pounds (589,676 kilograms).
Here's how Stratolaunch is supposed to work once the plane is fully tested and certified: The jet, carrying a rocket loaded with a satellite, will take off from Mojave and climb to an altitude of 35,000 feet.
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