Worlds largest airplane with wingspan of an American football field takes maiden flight

Worlds largest airplane with wingspan of an American football field takes maiden flight

In a first, the world’s largest airplane has taken its first flight from the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California. The airplane is designed to launch rockets into orbit from the air. It has a wingspan of 385 feet (118 metres), which is more than an American football field and is more-or-less equal to the length of the International Space Station (ISS) in orbit today. It weighs 500000 pounds that is approximately 226,797 kg.

Built by US-based space transportation company Stratolaunch, the airplane is designed to fly at an altitude of 35,000 feet. As mentioned above, the airplane can drop rockets at that height, which can then boost themselves into orbit around the planet (there was no rocket on this flight). Reportedly, the company has signed Northrop Grumman as its customer, which plans to use the airplane to launch its Pegasus XL rocket into space.

WOW. First flight of the worlds largest airplane. History is made. @Stratolaunch @NASASpaceflight #stratolaunch pic.twitter.com/e7x0omxvVc

— Jack Beyer (@thejackbeyer) 13 April 2019

The flight was not officially announced by Stratolaunch and was spotted by photographers at the airport where the company has been conducting runway tests. Stratolaunch was founded by (Late) Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft alongside Bill Gates in 1975 and was the Chairman of the Seattle Seahawks team in the National Football League (NFL). Unfortunately, he wasn’t there when the flight took off as he died in October last year.

In its first announcement in August last year, Stratolaunch said that its new family of launch vehicles will enter regular service in 2020. “The company’s unique air-launch system will use the world’s largest aircraft as a mobile launch platform, capable of deploying launch vehicles that will carry satellites to multiple orbits and inclinations on a single mission,” it had said. The company claims that with this launch, these new vehicles will make access to space convenient, affordable, and routine.

Meanwhile, Twitter was filled with appreciation. Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's Associate Administrator for NASA's Science Directorate, wrote on Twitter, “A historic milestone for the Stratolaunch team with this record setting aircraft taking flight. This is about going to the edge of space and beyond!”

A historic milestone for the #Stratolaunch team with this record setting aircraft taking flight! This is about going to the edge of space and beyond! I only wish the late @PaulGAllen could see this - his memory and impact lives on. https://t.co/h1VXQujsPk

— Thomas Zurbuchen (@Dr_ThomasZ) 13 April 2019

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