The massive aircraft designed to launch rockets into space flew off from the Mojave Air & Space Port’s Civilian Aerospace Test Center in California at 06:58 Pacific Daylight Time and conducted an initial test flight that lasted 2.5 hours achieving a maximum altitude of 17,000 feet and a top speed of 189 MPH before landing.
The remarkable first flight aircraft was witnessed by enthusiasts and media from around the world.
“What a fantastic first flight”. Stratolaunch CEO Jean Floyd, who watched the aircraft takeoff for the first time told reporters.
“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 Northup Grumman’s Scaled Composites and the Mojave Air and Space Port.” he added.
Since it was unveiled in June 2017, the Stratolaunch has undergone a series of tests before its maiden flight on Saturday.
The Stratolaunch can carry a payload of up to 500,000 pounds or 250 tons according to Stratolaunch Launch Systems.
The gigantic Stratolaunch has the largest wingspan in the world at 117.3 meters (384.8 feet), significantly larger than the previous record holder, the Antonov An-225 “Mriya”heavy lift cargo aircraft.
The aircraft is powered by six enormous Pratt & Whitney PW4000 jet engines formerly used on the Boeing 747 that only used four engines.