The world’s largest aircraft on the wing for the first time

Stratolaunch, a giant six-engine aircraft with the world’s longest wingspan , makes its historic first flight from the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, Calif., Saturday, April 13, 2019. Founded by the late billionaire Paul G. Allen, Stratolaunch is vying to be a contender in the market for air-launching small satellites. (AP Photo/Matt Hartman)

The world’s largest airplane completed its first test flight over California’s Mojave Desert on Saturday.

The distance from wing tip to wing tip is longer than a football pitch, a wingspan that is 50% larger than that of the super jumper Airbus A380. The aircraft, which has been named Stratolaunch, is designed to fly up to the lower parts of the stratosphere and release a rocket, which in turn flies into space to deploy satellites.

Until now, tests have only been done on the ground before Saturday’s two and a half hour flight over the Mojave Desert according to Scaled Composites, who built the plane.

“Today’s flight is a step further in our mission to offer a flexible alternative to launches that require powerful rockets” said CEO, Jean Floyd.

The plane had a top speed of 304 kilometers per hour on Saturday and reached an altitude of 17,000 feet (5,182 meters).

The huge plane has two hulls and six engines that correspond to those on a Boeing 747 Jumbo jet. The idea is that the rocket that will transport satellites into space will hang between the two fuselages on Stratolaunch.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today