Stratolaunch Systems Corporation on April 13, 2019 successfully completed the first flight of the world’s largest aircraft by wingspan, the Stratolaunch.
With a dual fuselage design and wingspan greater than the length of an American football field, the aircraft took flight at 06:58 PDT from the Mojave Air and Space Port.
Achieving a maximum speed of 164 knots, the aircraft flew for 2.5 hours over the Mojave Desert at altitudes up to 17,000ft.
As part of the initial flight, the pilots evaluated aircraft performance and handling qualities before landing successfully back at the Mojave Air and Space Port.
Jean Floyd, CEO of Stratolaunch. “Today’s flight 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 test team conducted standard aircraft testing exercises, performing a variety of flight control manoeuvres to calibrate speed and test flight control systems, including roll doublets, yawing manoeuvres, pushovers and pull-ups, steady heading side slips and simulated landing approach exercises at a maximum altitude of 15,000ft mean sea level.
The Stratolaunch aircraft is a mobile launch platform that its developers say will “enable airline-style access to space that is convenient, affordable and routine”.
The reinforced centre wing can support multiple launch vehicles weighing up to a total of 500,000lb.
Source: Stratolaunch Systems Corporation