'World's biggest aeroplane' with huge wingspan carries out maiden flight

'World's biggest aeroplane' with huge wingspan carries out maiden flight

It aims to make access to orbit more affordable and accessible by launching satellites into space from aircraft, rather than from the ground. "Even though he wasn't there today, I did whisper a 'thank you".

The world's largest airplane made its first test flight on Saturday in California.

Stratolaunch, which was founded by Mr Allen, is vying to be a contender in the market for air-launching small satellites. The Stratolaunch aircraft completed its first flight, debuting a unique style of aircraft to the skies that could change the way we travel by air. Cheap to the extent that it becomes as easy as booking an airline flight ticket.

The Stratolaunch aircraft flew at a max altitude of 17,000 feet over the desert, reaching its max speed of 189 miles-per-hour.

The pilot Evan Thomas told reporters the experience was "fantastic" and that "for the most part, the airplane flew as predicted".

The Stratolaunch itself has the largest wingspan of any aircraft on Earth at 385 feet, wider than a football field including the endzones; it even has two dozen feet to spare.

Its take-off weight is 1.3 million pounds. It may one day also launch passenger shuttles into space.

Stratolaunch originally touted this jet as the world's biggest aircraft, but toned down that statement this weekend referring to it as the "world's largest all-composite aircraft".

The plane is created to drop rockets and other space vehicles weighing up to 500,000 pounds at an altitude of 35,000 feet and has been billed by the company as making satellite deployment as "easy as booking an airline flight".

It is created to carry into space, and drop, a rocket that would in turn ignite to deploy satellites.

In other words, this isn't your typical airplane. It is powered by six engines on a twin fuselage. Storms can delay a traditional rocket launch, but a jet could simply take off and fly over bad weather - or around it - and then launch the satellite.

"Overall, we're very pleased with how the Stratolaunch aircraft performed", said Zachary Krevor, vice president of engineering at Stratolaunch. The event was supported by the Stratolaunch team who were present on the grounds to celebrate the aircraft's successful first flight.