World's Largest Aircraft Takes Flight for the First Time

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The world's largest aircraft, the Stratolaunch Launch Systems Stratolaunch, flew for the first time on Saturday, April 13, 2019. The twin-fuselage six-motor jet flew up to 15,000 ft (4,572m) and achieved velocities of around 170 miles for every hour (274 km/h) on its maiden flight.

Stratolaunch was established in 2011 by late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. It could potentially enable airline-style access to space flight, making the journey both routine and affordable for everyday passengers.

"What a fantastic first flight", Stratolaunch Chief Executive Officer Jean Floyd said in a statement posted to the company's website.

Regarding initial results from Saturday's test flight, Stratolaunch said the plane performed a variety of flight control maneuvers to calibrate speed and test flight control systems, including roll doublets, yawing maneuvers, pushovers and pull-ups, and steady heading side slips. In addition to Allen's death, Stratolaunch eventually gave up building a series of rockets and spacecrafts with which it meant to play a significant role in the growing market for satellite launches and other space artifacts.

Originally, the company had reportedly planned to build a whole suite of rockets, including a spaceplane.

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Mr Thomas said there were "a few little things that were off-nominal but really for a first flight it was spot on". It's so large that it needs two cockpits and it's powered by six Boeing 747 engines.

The company said the jet hit altitudes of up to 17,000 feet above the Mojave Desert while performance and handling qualities were evaluated. "Evan specializes in experimental flight test, aviation and test safety, aircraft stability and control testing as well as operational leadership", says an official. "Really, for a first flight, it was spot on". "Today's flight furthers our mission to provide a flexible alternative to ground-launched systems".

Paul Allen co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975.

There have been concerns about how Stratolaunch's business will work once it takes on customers, with some questioning whether a trend toward smaller satellites would dampen demand for such a large plane. Until now, it had just carried out tests on the ground.

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