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Paul Allen’s Stratolaunch, the world’s biggest airplane, takes first flight

It was a day that was years in the making and would have made Paul Allen proud. His Stratolaunch Systems company had its first test flight Saturday from the Mojave Air and Space Port.

The Seattle-based company wants to make space flight as easy as going to the airport, and they’ve developed the “stratolaunch” to do it. It’s the largest all-composite aircraft ever created, with a dual fuselage design and a wingspan longer than a football field.

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The goal is to carry rocket ships into the stratosphere, and then the rocket’s engines would ignite and carry the cargo the rest of the journey into space.

This maiden voyage — dubbed a success — is being dedicated to former Microsoft CEO Paul Allen. He started the company hoping scientific research in space would provide breakthrough  solutions for problems on earth.

“What a fantastic first flight,” said 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.”

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Reaching a speed of 189 miles per hour, the plane soared for two and a half hours over the Mojave Desert at altitudes up to 17,000 feet, and performed a series of tests before successfully landing.

“We all know Paul would have been proud to witness today’s historic achievement,” said Jody Allen, Chair of Vulcan Inc. and Trustee of the Paul G. Allen Trust. “The aircraft is a remarkable engineering achievement and we congratulate everyone involved.”

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