World's largest plane makes first flight over California

The world's largest aircraft, a carbon-composite plane, took its first flight on Saturday from California, U.S. over the Mojave Desert in California.

A giant six-engine aircraft with the world's longest wingspan has taken off from California on its first flight.

At a half-million tons, the jet took flight shortly after 10 a.m.at Mojave Air and Space Port, reaching a maximum speed of 175 miles per hour and a peak altitude of 15,000 feet. Stratolaunch aims to "make access to orbit as routine as catching a commercial airline flight is today".

"What a fantastic first flight", said Stratolaunch CEO Jean Floyd.

"For the most part, the plane flew as predicted", said Thomas, a former F-16 Air Force fighter pilot.

The aircraft constructed and designed by Stratolaunch has a record breaking 385-foot wingspan and has been 8 years in the making. Floyd went on to remark, "Today's flight furthers our mission to provide a flexible alternative to ground launched systems".

Stratolaunch was developed by Northrop Grumman division Scaled Composites for Stratolaunch Systems Corporation, a company founded in 2011 by American billionaire and Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen. "I honestly could not have hoped for more on a first flight, especially of an airplane of this complexity and this uniqueness".

Stratolaunch has said that it intends to launch its first rockets from the Roc in 2020 at the earliest Photo: Reuters.

Although the cost of the airplane hasn't been made public, other details are known.

As taking off from the ground is the most fuel-consuming portion of a rocket launch, the idea of a stratosphere launch is meant to allow for the increase of a rocket's payload, also allowing for a faster turnaround between launches, say specialists at both Stratolaunch and Virgin Orbit, according to a CNBC report. "People want to see what's next". The Stratolaunch is powered by six enormous Pratt & Whitney PW4000 jet engines formerly used on the Boeing 747 that only used four engines.

Stratolaunch is created to be a mobile platform for launching satellites into space. The company initially planned to develop its own fleet of rockets but scrapped the plan in January, CNBC report says.

  • Joe Gonzales