+VIDEO Two fuselages, wingspan greater than the length of a football pitch, aiming for the edge of space with a payload of satellites… it’s Stratolaunch, the world’s biggest aircraft and it has just made its first flight.
The huge aircraft achieved a maximum speed of 189 miles per hour, and flew for 2.5 hours over the Mojave Desert at altitudes up to 17,000ft before landing successfully back at the Mojave Air and Space Port.
“What a fantastic first flight,” said Jean Floyd, CEO of Stratolaunch. “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 Northrup Grumman’s Scaled Composites and the Mojave Air and Space Port.”
The test team conducted standard aircraft testing exercises. Initial results from today’s test points include:
- Flight control manoeuvres to calibrate speed and test flight control systems, including roll doublets, yawing maneuvers, pushovers and pull-ups, and steady heading side slips
- Simulated landing approach exercises at a max altitude of 15,000ft mean sea level.
The Stratolaunch aircraft is a mobile launch platform that will enable airline-style access to space that is convenient, affordable and routine. The reinforced centre wing can support multiple launch vehicles, weighing up to a total of 500,000 pounds.