Wed, 17 Jul 2019

Plane with football-length width takes to the sky

Michigan State News
15 Apr 2019, 00:05 GMT+10

<p>MOJAVE, California -&nbsp; Stratolaunch&nbsp;Systems Corporation,&nbsp;founded by Paul G. Allen, successfully completed&nbsp;the&nbsp;first flight&nbsp;of the world&rsquo;s largest all-composite aircraft,&nbsp;the&nbsp;Stratolaunch on Saturday.&nbsp;</p><p>With&nbsp;a&nbsp;dual&nbsp;fuselage design and&nbsp;wingspan greater than the length of an American football field, the Stratolaunch aircraft took off at 06:58 am Pacific time from the Mojave Air Space Port.</p><p>Achieving a maximum speed of&nbsp;189 miles per hour, the plane flew for&nbsp;2.5 hours&nbsp;over the Mojave&nbsp;Desert at altitudes up to&nbsp;17,000 feet.&nbsp;As part of the&nbsp;initial&nbsp;flight, the pilots evaluated aircraft performance and handling qualities before landing successfully back at the Mojave Air and Space Port.</p><p>&quot;What a fantastic first flight,&quot; said Jean Floyd, CEO of Stratolaunch Saturday. &quot;Today&rsquo;s flight furthers our mission to provide a flexible alternative to ground launched systems. We are incredibly proud of the Stratolaunch team, today&rsquo;s flight crew, our partners at Northrup Grumman&rsquo;s Scaled Composites and the Mojave Air and Space Port.&quot;</p><p>The&nbsp;test&nbsp;team conducted standard aircraft testing exercises. Initial results from today&rsquo;s test points include:</p><p>- Performed a variety of flight control maneuvers&nbsp;to calibrate speed and&nbsp;test flight control&nbsp;systems, including roll doublets, yawing maneuvers, pushovers and&nbsp;pull-ups, and steady&nbsp;heading side slips.</p><p>- Conducted simulated landing approach exercises at a max altitude of 15,000 feet mean sea level.</p><p>The&nbsp;Stratolaunch&nbsp;aircraft is a mobile launch platform that will enable airline-style access to space that is convenient, affordable and routine. The reinforced center wing can support multiple launch vehicles, weighing up to a total of 500,000 pounds.</p><p>&quot;We&nbsp;all know Paul would have been&nbsp;proud to witness today&rsquo;s historic achievement,&quot;&nbsp;said Jody Allen,&nbsp;Chair of Vulcan Inc. and Trustee of the Paul G. Allen Trust.&nbsp;&quot;The aircraft&nbsp;is&nbsp;a remarkable engineering achievement and we congratulate everyone involved.&quot;</p>

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