The world's largest aircraft, the Stratolaunch Launch Systems Stratolaunch, flew for the first time on Saturday, April 13, 2019. "We are incredibly proud of the Stratolaunch team, today's flight crew, our partners at Northrup Grumman's Scaled Composites and the Mojave Air and Space Port".
Chief Executive Jean Floyd said Saturday the aircraft made a "spectacular" landing that was on the mark.
Founded by the late billionaire and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, Stratolaunch is vying to be a contender in the market for air-launching small satellites. He died late in 2018 as a result of complications from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
It is created to carry as many as three satellite-laden rockets under its wings, which stretch about 117 meters. The plane is the brainchild of Paul G. Allen's Stratolaunch Systems Corporation, and sports an impressive 385-foot wingspan.
The world's largest airplane, Stratolaunch, successfully took to the skies for the first time this morning in a two and a half hour long test flight over the Mojave desert, marking a major aviation milestone.
If successful, such a project would be a cheaper way to launch objects into space than rockets fired from the ground. The plane then will land safety back at Mojave, while the rocket carries the satellite into an orbit ranging from about 300 miles to 1,200 miles above Earth.
Thomas said there were "a few little things that were off-nominal but really for a first flight it was spot-on".
The aircraft is meant to make space launches easier and cheaper since it can take off from "dozens of United States runways", as well as saving fuel and flying over storms and other bad weather conditions.
"The aircraft is a remarkable engineering achievement and we congratulate everyone involved".
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. The six-engine jet can take off with up to 500,000 pounds of weight.
The previous world wingspan record holder was Howard Hughes' World War II-era eight-engine H-4 Hercules flying boat - nicknamed the Spruce Goose.