The largest airplane ever created took off for the very first time last Saturday. The aircraft, from Stratolaunch Systems, has taken eight years to make. By 2022, the company hopes to use the twin-fuselage, six-engine, 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 finally did it,” Stratolaunch CEO Jean Floyd told reporters on a press call.
The company reported that the airplane reached speeds of 189 mph and heights of 17,000 feet during its 150-minute test-flight, before landing safely at the Mojave Air and Space Port.
“What a fantastic first flight,” said Floyd. “Today’s flight furthers our mission to provide a flexible alternative to ground launched systems. We are incredibly proud of the Stratolaunch team, today’s flight crew, our partners at Northrop Grumman’s Scaled Composites and the Mojave Air and Space Port.”
The Stratolaunch aircraft is a mobile launch platform that will enable airline-style access to space that is convenient, affordable and routine. The reinforced center wing can support multiple launch vehicles, weighing up to a total of 500,000 pounds, according to a report by Stratolaunch.
“We all know Paul would have been proud to witness today’s historic achievement,” said Jody Allen, Chair of Vulcan Inc. and Trustee of the Paul G. Allen Trust. “The aircraft is a remarkable engineering achievement and we congratulate everyone involved.”