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The worlds largest airplane takes its first flight

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The jet's landing gear has 28 wheels

A giant aircraft with the world's longest wingspan has landed after its first ever flight.

The massive aircraft took off from the Mojave Air & Space Port's Civilian Aerospace Test Center in California at 06:58 Pacific Daylight Time and conducted an initial test flight that lasted 2.5 hours achieving a maximum altitude of 17,000 feet and a top speed of 189 MPH before landing.

"What a fantastic first flight", Stratolaunch Chief Executive Officer Jean Floyd said in a statement posted to the company's website. The aircraft is created to take rockets weighing as much as 400,000 pounds to 35,000 feet for launch and will tap into the burgeoning market for communications, reconnaissance and broadband satellites being put between 300 and 1,200 miles in altitude. Stratolaunch, which was founded by Allen, is vying to be a contender in the market for air-launching small satellites.

Built by Stratolaunch, the company set up by the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in 2011, the aircraft is created to act as a flying launch pad for satellites, BBC reports.

"It was an emotional moment for me, to personally watch this majestic bird take flight, to see Paul Allen's dream comes to life in front of my very eyes", Floyd told a teleconference briefing. The idea is to fly the plane to 10 km before releasing satellites into orbit.

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. "Evan specializes in experimental flight test, aviation and test safety, aircraft stability and control testing as well as operational leadership", says an official.

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This aircraft is created to take entire space rockets to the stratosphere for launch.

Its twin fuselages are 238 feet long, and the aircraft is so big, it has two cockpits - one in each fuselage - although only one is used to fly the plane.

Stratolaunch aircraft first emerged from its Mojave hangar in 2017 and underwent ground tests, including taxiing and rolling down a runway at near-takeoff speeds.

The aircraft's wingspan measures 385 feet - wider than any airplane on the planet. The event was supported by the Stratolaunch team who were present on the grounds to celebrate the aircraft's successful first flight.

"The airplane felt really nice on the touchdown, gear felt good", Thomas said.

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