Stratolaunch completes historic first flight
Posted on 08 May 2019 and read 1606 times
Stratolaunch Systems Corp (founded by Paul Allen) successfully completed the first flight of the world’s largest all-composite aircraft last month.
With a dual fuselage design and a wingspan greater than the length of an American football field, the six-engined Stratolaunch aircraft took off from the Mojave Air and Space Port.
The aircraft — a mobile rocket launch platform — achieved a maximum speed of 189mph and flew for 2.5hr over the Mojave Desert at altitudes up to 17,000ft.
A key part of the initial flight was enabling the pilots to evaluated the aircraft’s performance and handling qualities before returning to the air base.
Jean Floyd, CEO of Stratolaunch (www.stratolaunch.com
), said: “What a fantastic first flight. Today’s venture 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 Stratolaunch aircraft can enable airline-style access to space that is convenient, affordable and routine — and bypasses many of the hazards associated with ground launches.
The reinforced centre wing can support multiple launch vehicles, weighing up to a total of 500,000lb; and once the aircraft reaches a cruising altitude of 35,000ft, one or more launch vehicles can be released.
As the launch vehicles ascend into orbit, the Stratolaunch plane heads back to the runway to reload for its next mission.