Stratolaunch Completes Historic First Flight of Aircraft

Stratolaunch takes off. (Credit: Stratolaunch)

MOJAVE, CA – April 13, 2019 (Stratolaunch PR) – Stratolaunch Systems Corporation, founded by Paul G. Allen, today successfully completed the first flight of the world’s largest all-composite aircraft,  the  Stratolaunch. With a dual fuselage design and wingspan greater than the length of an American football field, the Stratolaunch aircraft took flight at 0658 PDT from the Mojave Air & Space Port. Achieving a maximum speed of 189 miles per hour, the plane flew for 2.5 hours over the Mojave Desert at altitudes up to 17,000 feet. 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.

“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.”

The test team conducted standard aircraft testing exercises. Initial results from today’s test points include:

  • Performed a variety of flight control maneuvers to calibrate speed and test flight control systems, including roll doublets, yawing maneuvers, pushovers and pull-ups, and steady heading side slips.
  • Conducted simulated landing approach exercises at a max altitude of 15,000 feet mean sea level.
Stratolaunch flies over Mojave. (Credit: Stratolaunch)

The Stratolaunch 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.

“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.”

Stratolaunch flies (Credit: Stratolaunch)

For more information, please visit www.stratolaunch.com/news-and-features for fact sheet, aerial images and video of first flight. Please also follow @Stratolaunch on Twitter for the latest updates.

About Stratolaunch Systems Corporation

Founded in 2011 by Paul G. Allen, Stratolaunch Systems Corporation believes in safeguarding Earth for future generations. We do this by enabling convenient, affordable, and routine, airline-style access to space that empowers the world’s problem solvers – so that they can collect rich and actionable data and drive advancements in science, research, and technology from space.

Fly to orbit with Stratolaunch.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Congratulations! Good to see it’s first flight was successful.

  • Steve

    Max speed is only 189 mph ? Was that only this flight, or will the airframe break in two at any higher speed ? It would have been nice to see the thing at least go as fast as the 2 747 air frames they cut apart

  • Jeff2Space

    I believe this aircraft is optimized for high altitude flight with a heavy payload, not speed.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Hey, its far faster than Burt Rutan’s Voyager which could only max out at 122 mph…

  • Bulldog

    Hi Steve. I’m guessing that the max speed was likely dictated by the maximum gear extension speed. Most aircraft with retractable landing gear will make their first couple of test flights with the landing gear extended throughout the flight. This reduces the number of test points in the inital flights and minimizes crew workload if an emergency occurs. I would expect that gear retraction and extension tests will be added to the test card in the next flight or two.