World's largest plane completes a successful first flight

The Stratolaunch is a gigantic aircraft designed to carry rockets into the stratosphere and made its first flight yesterday. Lasting 150 minutes, the 385-foot-wide aircraft reached a top speed of 189 mph and a height of 16,000 feet without problems, delivering smooth performance and meeting expectations.

The Stratolaunch is 117 meters wide, 73 meters long and 15 meters high. Its weight is 500,000 pounds (250 tons) empty, but full of fuel and with a rocket payload, it can weigh up to 1,300,000 pounds (650 tons). To push all this weight, it uses two fuselages, each with three connected Boeing 747s, able to support a distance of 35,000 feet and 2,000 nautical miles (3,704 km).

"It was a moving moment for me, personally, to see this majestic bird take flight," said Stratolaunch general manager Jean Floyd during a press call. "You've all been very patient and very tolerant over the years, waiting for us to lift this big bird from the ground, and finally we did it."

The Stratolaunch is the most advanced in the development of future rocket planes, but it is not alone. There is a strong demand for a cheaper way to launch rockets and from more places. Giant planes are reusable (unlike many rockets), they can take off from most major airports and their flights are less dependent on the climate.

Stratolaunch had previously partnered with SpaceX, but SpaceX ended the partnership by focusing on launching its reusable rockets. Stratolaunch reached an agreement with Northrop Grumman for the launch of its Pegasus rocket, the first private development rocket and the first to use a plane to launch it. However, at age 29, Pegasus begins to show his age.

Although flying was a proud moment for Stratolaunch, it was bitterly sweet for the many engineers who wanted Paul and Stratolaunch founder Paul Allen to celebrate this success. Allen died last October of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. "Although I was not here today, when the plane came out of the runway gracefully, I whispered a" thank you "to Paul for allowing me to take part in this remarkable achievement," he said. Floyd.

Although the flight has been a success in all measures, there is still a long way to go. When asked, Stratolaunch employees could not set schedules for their upcoming flights and could not guess when the first commercial operation could take place.

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