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This was the first flight for Stratolaunch, which is billed as the world's largest aircraft.

The twin-fuselage Stratolaunch jet landed two hours after taking off from Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The jet flew 2.5 hours, achieving a maximum speed of 189 mph (304 kph) and altitudes up to 17,000 feet (5,181 meters), the company said.

However, neither Krevor nor Jean Floyd, the chief executive of Stratolaunch, said anything about the test flight program, including when the plane will fly again and how long the overall test program will last.

The aircraft built by Stratolaunch is created to act as a flying launch pad for satellites. The American business magnate, who co-founded Microsoft along with Bill Gates in 1975, died of cancer in October a year ago at the age of 65. The aircraft is created to carry as many as three satellite-laden rockets under the center of its enormous wing, which stretches 385ft, or 117m.

The aircraft has a world-record wingspan of 385 feet, and is 238 feet long.

"The Stratolaunch aircraft is a mobile launch platform that will enable airline-style access to space that is convenient, affordable, and routine", according to a press release.

"What a fantastic first flight". "We are well on our way towards providing new launch opportunities for small satellites that have waited too long for their ride to space", Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart said Wednesday in a statement.

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"We all know Paul would have been proud to witness today's historic achievement", said Jody Allen, chairman of Vulcan, which runs Allen's estate.

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

The aircraft is meant to make space launches easier and cheaper since it can take off from "dozens of USA runways", as well as saving fuel and flying over storms and other bad weather conditions.

While Stratolaunch calls its aircraft the world's largest, other airplanes exceed it in length from nose to tail.

They include the six-engine Antonov AN 225 cargo plane, which is 84 metres long, and the Boeing 747-8, which is just over 76 metres long.

Its wings stretch about 97.5-meters and can still be seen today at an aviation museum in Oregon.


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