The Stratolaunch has made his baptism of the air. On Saturday, the world’s largest aircraft made its first test flight over a californian desert. The device was built by the engineering company aerospace, Scaled Composites in the Mojave desert : its wingspan is 117 metres, or about one and a half times that of the A380. The plane also has two fuselages and is powered by six engines of a Boeing 747.
The Stratolaunch must serve, in theory, take out and drop in altitude with a small rocket, which will ignite its engine, and will propel it into space to place satellites in orbit. It is a method of access to space that is more flexible than a takeoff of the rocket to the vertical, because it would be a great take-off runway.
A first flight “fantastic”
The plane Stratolaunch took off from the airport and a “spaceport” of Mojave, California, to 06h58 local time (15h58 French time), and remained in the air for two hours and a half, the company announced in a press release this Sunday. Until now, the aircraft had not made the driving tests on the ground.
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The maximum speed during the flight was of 304 km/h, and the aircraft climbed to 17,000 feet, or a 5-182 metres, indicates Stratolauch. “What is the first flight fantastic”, has congratulated the general director of the company, John Floyd. “The flight today is a step forward in our mission to provide an alternative solution that is flexible to the launch systems on the ground”.
Stratolaunch was funded by a co-founder of Microsoft, Paul Allen, in order to become a new player of the market for launches of small satellites. But the death of Paul Allen, in October 2018, makes uncertain the future of this plane with the extraordinary dimensions.