The world’s largest airplane, built by the company owned by late Paul Allen company, Stratolaunch Systems Corporation, has made its first test flight.
The aircraft, a carbon-composite plane, took off on Saturday from California, United States, over the Mojave Desert in California.
The white airplane called Roc, nicknamed after a giant mythical bird, has a wingspan that has the length of an American football field. It is powered by six engines on a twin fuselage.
It stayed aloft for more than two hours before landing safely back at the Mojave Air and Space Port.
Jean Floyd, Stratolaunch Chief Executive, said in a statement on the company’s website: “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 Northrup Grumman’s Scaled Composites and the Mojave Air and Space Port.”
The plane is designed to drop rockets and other space vehicles weighing up to 500,000 pounds at an altitude of 35,000 feet.
It has been billed by the company as making satellite deployment as “easy as booking an airline flight.”
The flight, which saw the plane reach a maximum speed of 189 miles per hour and altitudes of 17,000 feet, was meant to test its performance and handling qualities, according to Stratolaunch.
Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975, announced in 2011, that he had formed the privately funded Stratolaunch.
Allen died in October 2018, while suffering from non-HodgKin’s lymphoma, months after the plane’s development was unveiled.