The world’s largest plane has performed its first successful test flight. As reported by Wired, Stratolaunch Systems recently flew its massive Stratolaunch airplane above the Mojave Desert. Featuring dual fuselages, the Stratolaunch isn’t an ordinary airplane. As shown in the image to the left, it’s the world’s largest airplane in terms of wingspan.
So, just how big is the Stratolaunch? Reports show that it measures 385 feet from one wingtip to the opposite wingtip. To put that number into perspective, the Boeing 787-8 airliner has a wingspan of just 187 feet, making the Stratolaunch over twice the size of its Boeing counterpart.
The Stratolaunch won’t be used as a commercial airliner for shuffling passengers from point A to point B. Rather, Stratolaunch Systems says that it’s building the new jumbo-sized airplane to carry payloads into orbit. When finished, the aerospace manufacturing company hopes to use the Stratolaunch to send satellites and other payloads into Earth’s orbit.
Stratolaunch Systems has been working on the massively sized Stratolaunch for over eight years, but it appears the company’s hard work has finally paid off. “All of you have been very patient and very tolerant over the years waiting for us to get this big bird off the ground, and we finally did it,” Stratolaunch CEO Jean Floyd said during a press event shortly after the flight test. Floyd went on to reveal that the Stratolaunch reached an altitude of roughly 17,000 feet, with a speed of about 189 miles per hour, during the two-and-a-half-hour test flight.
Stratolaunch Systems began working on the Stratolaunch back in 2010, though it didn’t announce the project to the public until almost a year later. At the time, Stratolaunch Systems assigned some 40 workers to the project. According to various reports, Stratolaunch Systems originally planned to perform the Stratolaunch’s first test flight in 2015. Towards the end of 2013, it became apparent that Stratolaunch Systems would not be able to reach this goal, so the company pushed back the test flight date until 2018. And when 2018 rolled around, Stratolaunch Systems postponed the Stratolaunch’s test flight yet again. Earlier this month, however, Stratolaunch Systems finally performed the first test flight with its Stratolaunch, plowing the massive airplane over the skies of the Mojave Desert.
Of course, news of Stratolaunch’s successful test flight will likely trigger competition by other aerospace manufacturing companies, specifically SpaceX. Both Stratolaunch Systems and SpaceX have voiced plans to offer payload delivery services to space agencies and private companies.
Photo Credit: Stratolaunch