Stratolaunch: World’s Largest Plane recently completed its maiden flight
Stratolaunch is the largest airplane in the world. This double-bodied airplane has a wingspan of about 117 meters (385 feet). It took eight years for engineers to build this beauty. It is designed to launch rockets into space directly from the air. A custom hangar was designed in California where it was kept for all this time, but now it has completed its maiden flight. It took off from Mojave air and spaceport in California, and its first flight lasted for two and a half hours over the Mojave Desert.
During the flight, the maximum speed achieved was 189 miles per hour and a peak altitude of 15,000 feet. However, the Stratolaunch can fly at the height of 35,000 feet and can carry 250,000 Kgs (550,000 lb) of payloads in the form of a rocket carrying satellites. The aircraft itself weighs 226,000 Kgs (500,000 lb). The Stratolaunch made a new record of having the longest wingspan when it took off for its first flight. Previously this record belonged to Hughes Aircraft Company’s “Spruce Goose” H-4 Hercules since 1947.
A series of maneuvers were performed to evaluate the aircraft performance like the yawing maneuvers, roll doublets, steady heading side slips, pushovers, and pull-ups. It will essentially serve as a flying launch pad into low-Earth orbit, providing multiple benefits like the saving of fuel costs, and it will make access to space more reliable, convenient, and routine.
The CEO of Stratolaunch said, “What a fantastic first flight. 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 Northrop Grumman’s Scaled Composites and the Mojave Air and Space Port.”
The company is hoping to launch the rockets carrying satellites from its reinforced central wing into space by the year 2022.