The American company Stratolaunch announced Saturday that it had carried over a California desert the first test flight of the largest aircraft in the world, whose wingspan is almost half that of an Airbus A380.
The strange device, built by the mythical aeronautical engineering company Scaled Composites in the Mojave Desert, has two fuselages and is powered by six Boeing 747 engines retail 20 Minutes.
The plane remained in the air for two and a half hours. It must theoretically be used to carry and drop at altitude a small rocket that will then light its engine, and will propel to space to place satellites in orbit. This is a more flexible method of accessing the space than vertical rocket takeoffs, as a large take-off runway would suffice.
The Stratolaunch aircraft took off from the airport and "spaceport" in Mojave, California at 06:58 local time, and remained in the air for two and a half hours The company said in a statement Sunday. Until now, the aircraft had only ground taxi tests.
More than one and a half times bigger than an Airbus A 380
The maximum speed during the flight was 304 km / h (189 miles per hour, according to Stratolaunch), and the aircraft climbed to 17,000 feet, or 5,182 meters.
" What a fantastic first flight
Said Stratolaunch CEO Jean Floyd. " Today's flight advances our mission to provide a flexible alternative solution to ground launch systems
The size of the craft, 117 meters, is larger than a football field. An Airbus A380 is 79.75 meters wide.
Stratolaunch was funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen to become a new player in the small satellite launch market. But the death of Mr. Allen in October 2018 makes the future of the Stratolaunch uncertain.