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Stratolaunch, the world's largest aircraft, takes flight




On Saturday morning, just 45 minutes after the sun began to rise over the Mojave Desert, took the largest aircraft ever created and the record breaking 385-foot wing panel for the first time. The aircraft, from Stratolaunch, has been eight years on the road. In 2022, the company hopes to use the twin body, six-motorized, catamaran-style aircraft to launch satellite-bearing rockets into space.

"All of you have been very patient and very tolerant over the years waiting for us to get this big bird off the ground, and we did it finally," said Strat Flood CEO Jean Floyd for press releases. 189 km / h and altitudes of 17,000 meters during its 1[ads1]50 minute test flight, before landing safely in the Mojave Air and Space Port.

"The systems on the plane ran like a clock" test pilot Evan Thomas told reporters.

But today's events were bittersweet, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, a long-standing space enthusiast who founded and funded the Stratolaunch project, died in October last year, 65, from complications related to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. "Although he was not there Today, when the plane lifted gracefully from the runway, I knew a "thank you" to Paul for letting me be part of this remarkable achievement, Floyd said.

One day soon, Stratolaunch hopes to carry 250-ton rocket ships loaded with satellites to a height of 35,000 feet in the stratosphere. Once in cruising altitude, a rocket's engines would ignite, carry it and its satellite cargo the rest of the way into the room. Only a variety of facilities, such as the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, can handle rocket launches, which means close competition for planning and long waiting times. Aircraft can take off from many more runways, as Stratolaunch hopes will give its aircraft a competitive advantage for those who want to launch satellites in orbit.

The aircraft's six Pratt & Whitney engines and 28-wheel landing gear were originally designed for the Boeing 747s. In fact, the airline Scaled Composites, which worked with Stratolaunch to build the aircraft, saved money by rehabilitating three 747s to put it together. The plane fills almost every corner of its approx. 100,000 square foot hangar in Mojave Air and Space Port. The maximum starting weight is £ 1.3 million. (It is also worth noting that while the aircraft is the largest when it comes to wingspan, others fly over it in length.)

Stratolaunch's ambitions have shifted in recent years. It was originally intended to carry modified SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets into the room, but the two companies soon split. In 2016, it had found a new partner, Northrop Grumman-owned Orbital ATK, which builds the Pegasus XL rocket. Stratolaunch had once hoped to build their own rocket ships and rocket engines, but it completed the project and wound up some workers earlier this year.

Though representatives of Allen's holding company have said that the billionaire earmarked funds for Stratolaunch before his death, Venture's future is not entirely clear. A spokesman for the company could not immediately say when Stratolaunch planned to complete multiple aircraft, and the aircraft will need certification from the Federal Aviation Administration before it can begin carrying rockets and satellites in space.

The Stratolaunch project is also facing expressions. Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit company is seeking to run its own test of a modified Boeing 747 later this year – an aircraft also built to carry satellite-bearing rockets in orbit.

And at the back of all these ambitious engineers and aviation experts the minds are also the spectrum of Spruce Goose . The plane, a wonder when it was completed in 1947 as a pet project by eccentric business magnet Howard Hughes, flew just a mile away before going to an Oregon museum where Allen apparently visited it.

On Saturday morning, though, the Stratolaunch team was in a high mood. "We dedicate this day to the man who inspired us all to strive for ways to strengthen the world's problem solver, Paul Allen," Floyd said. "Without a doubt, he had been very proud to see his plane fly."


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