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Stratolaunch makes first flight
Stratolaunch takes off. © Stratolaunch

Stratolaunch makes first flight

Stratolaunch Systems Corporation successfully completed the first flight of the world’s largest all-composite aircraft, the Stratolaunch, on 13th April.

Stratolaunch Systems Corporation successfully completed the first flight of the world’s largest all-composite aircraft, the Stratolaunch, on 13th April. The dual-fuselage, six-engine aircraft, which features a wingspan greater than the length of an American football field, took off at 06:58 PDT from the Mojave Air & Space Port.

Achieving a maximum speed of 189 miles per hour, the plane flew for 2.5 hours over the Mojave Desert at altitudes up to 17,000 feet (5,180m). As part of the initial flight, the pilots evaluated aircraft performance and handling qualities before landing successfully back at the Mojave Air & Space Port.

During the flight, the test team 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. Simulated landing approach exercises were also conducted at a maximum altitude of 15,000 feet mean sea level.

The aircraft, built by Stratolaunch Systems Corp. in partnership with Northrop Grumman's Scaled Composites subsidiary and weighing in at 500,000lb (227,000kg), is the world’s largest aircraft by wingspan — 385ft (117m), 121ft more than the A380. It is designed for a maximum takeoff weight of 1,300,000lb and will be capable of carrying payloads up to 550,000lb.

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