World’s largest plane makes first flight

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Allen, today successfully completed the first flight of the world's largest all-composite aircraft, the Stratolaunch.

The jet flew for two and a half hours, achieving a maximum speed of 304 kilometres per hour and altitudes up to 17,000 feet (5,181 meters), the company said.

"We are incredibly proud of the Stratolaunch team, today's flight crew and our partners", says Jean Floyd, CEO of Stratolaunch.

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".

Allen founded Stratolaunch Systems in 2011, after funding the development of the experimental air-launched SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 became the first privately built manned rocket to reach space.

The aircraft is created to release rockets attached to the center of its enormous wing, which stretches 385 feet (117 meters) from tip to tip - a longer wingspan than any other aircraft.

Stratolaunch, the world's largest airplane with a 385-foot wingspan, took off and successfully landed for the first time in the California desert on Saturday.

"I honestly could not have hoped for more on a first flight, especially of an airplane of this complexity and this uniqueness", he said in a brief media call after the flight. It features six Pratt & Whitney PW4056 turbofan engines, a similar type to those being used on the Airbus A300, Boeing 747-400 and Boeing 767.

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The aircraft is created to carry as many as three satellite-laden rockets at a time under the centre of its enormous wing.

"We all know Paul would have been proud to witness today's historic achievement". It would be cheaper than rockets fired from the ground.

The aircraft's wingspan is nearly double that of an Airbus A380.

"The aircraft is a remarkable engineering achievement and we congratulate everyone involved".

Built by California-based company Scaled Composites (owned by Northrop Grumman), the ginormous plane is created to ferry rockets and various types of spacecraft into orbit.

The aircraft taking off from Mojave, California.

The Stratolaunch team celebrates as the world's largest aircraft takes flight. Surviving in an aviation museum, it has an approximately 320ft (97.5m) wingspan but is just under 219ft long.

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