The brainchild of Seattle-based Stratolaunch – a company founded in 2011 by the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen – the 500,000-pound aircraft enjoyed its maiden flight from Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California.
We finally did it,” said Stratolaunch Systems CEO Jean Floyd at a news conference from the hangar at Mojave Air & Space Port.
“It was an emotional moment to watch this bird take flight. I had imagined this moment for years, but I had never imagined it without Paul standing next to me.”
One of the world’s most renowned technology entrepreneurs, Paul Allen died last October at the age of 65.
The Stratolaunch aircraft has been designed for use as an alternative method of putting satellites into earth’s lower orbit, and is targeted at the military, private companies, and even NASA.
It is powered by six jet engines and has a dual-fuselage design, and is designed to fly to an altitude of 35,000 feet, where it can drop rockets that ignite their own engines and boost themselves into orbit.
Stratolaunch has already announced Northrop Grumman will be its first customer, which plans to use Stratolaunch to send its Pegasus XL rocket into space.