World’s Largest Plane Finally Gets Airborne

Apr 13, 2019

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Previously, the largest plane flying has been the Antonov AN-225. But as of 6:58am PDT Saturday, it’s been ousted as the king in the skies. Stratolaunch Systems, a company founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, flew its massive new plane for the first time today over the Mojave Desert after years of design and testing.

First flight of Stratolaunch. Photo by Stratolaunch Systems
First flight of Stratolaunch. Photo by Stratolaunch Systems

Departing the Mojave Air and Space Port early in the morning, the plane, with its 385-foot wing span, reached an altitude of 17,000 feet over the desert as it flew for around two and half hours as the pilots evaluated the aircraft’s performance and handling qualities, according to an email sent to TPG by Stratolaunch Systems.

Touch down after tirst flight of Stratolaunch. Photo by Stratolaunch Systems
Touch down after tirst flight of Stratolaunch. Photo by Stratolaunch Systems

The plane, powered by six Pratt and Whitney PW4056 engines (the same engines used on most Boeing 747s), will be used to lift rockets to around 30,000 feet, where the rocket will then carry satellites into low-earth orbit. The company is hoping to launch its first payload into space some time in 2020.

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Featured Photo by Stratolaunch Systems

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