Stratolaunch jet with 117-metre wingspan takes off for first flight

| 14.04,19. 12:44 PM |




Stratolaunch jet with 117-metre wingspan takes off for first flight


A giant six-engine aircraft with the world's longest wingspan completed what company officials called a successful initial flight over California's Mojave Desert, bringing to life a dream held by late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

Jean Floyd, Stratolaunch Systems chief executive, said the aircraft made a "spectacular" landing that was on the mark.

Stratolaunch, which was founded by Mr Allen, is vying to be a contender in the market for air-launching small satellites. He died in October

"It was an emotional moment for me, to personally watch this majestic bird take flight, to see Paul Allen's dream come to life in front of my very eyes," Mr Floyd told a teleconference briefing.

Mr Floyd said that as the plane took off, "I did whisper a 'thank you' to Paul for allowing me to be part of this remarkable achievement".

The behemoth, twin-fuselage Stratolaunch jet took off from Mojave Air and Space Port and climbed into the desert sky 112 kilometres north of Los Angeles.

The jet flew for two and a half hours, achieving a maximum speed of 304 kilometres per hour and altitudes up to 17,000 feet (5,181 meters), the company said.

Test pilot Evan Thomas said the flight overall was "fantastic" and for the most part the plane flew as predicted.

"The airplane very nicely, smoothly rotated and really just lifted off the ground," he said.

"It definitely was ready to fly and wanted to fly and climbed out quickly."

Mr Thomas said there were "a few little things that were off-nominal but really for a first flight it was spot on."

The aircraft is designed to carry as many as three satellite-laden rockets at a time under the centre of its enormous wing, which stretches 117 metres — a longer wingspan than any other aircraft.

At an altitude of 35,000 feet (10,668 metres), the rockets would be released, ignite their engines and soar into space.

The advantages of such air-launch systems include being able to use numerous airports and avoid the limitations of fixed launch sites which can be impacted by weather, air traffic and ship traffic on ocean ranges

While Stratolaunch called its 73-metre-long aircraft the world's largest, other airplanes exceed it in length from nose to tail.

They include the six-engine Antonov AN 225 cargo plane, which is 84 metres long, and the Boeing 747-8, which is just over 76 metres long.


AP/ABC/FNO



(Votes: 0)

Other News

Hundreds protest China, urge US action for Uighurs Syria: Regime attacks kill 11 civilians in Idlib Britain: You must not forget the plight of the Rohingya New Zealand shooter to face 50 murder charges: Police Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigns Alleged Christchurch mosque shooter 'complains about prison' Slovakia elects first female president Voting begins in Turkey’s local elections Anglo-Iranian Communities Express Solidarity with Flood Victims in Iran Erdogan: US has no right to give Golan to Israel Malaysia, New Zealand draw together in face of terror Austria confirms link between far-right group, NZ terrorist Petition to give Jacinda Ardern Nobel Peace No news, no visitors: Accused Christchurch gunman isolated in prison Turkish president supports 'Hello Brother' campaign 'Muslim nations must act against threats on humanity's future' One week on: The nation stops to remember victims of Christchurch terror attacks headscarves in solidarity with Muslims after Christchurch shootings China struck by another industrial fire as 47 killed and 640 injured in pesticide plant explosion UK: Labour adopts full definition of Islamophobia Turkey warns West against ignoring Islamophobia New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern announces post-Christchurch ban on military-style semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles ‘Saudi war on dissent reveals kingdom’s true nature’ OIC to hold emergency meeting after NZ terror attacks Christchurch schoolboys perform haka in show of respect for attack victims Turkey condemns Netherlands tram shooting Turkey blasts Europe's 'silence' on NZ terror attacks Christchurch shootings left 40 people dead, New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern says Australian citizen arrested as 'significant' number of people killed in NZ mosque shootings Mass shooting at mosque in New Zealand..video