Yes, rocket. Stratolaunch has just built a plane that is capable of launching rockets into the stratosphere (seriously, it says so in their name). It flew over the Mojave desert in California for two and a half hours during its maiden flight on Saturday April 13.
The Spruce Goose was flown only once, on November 2, 1947, and had the largest wingspan of any aircraft to ever take to the skies until Saturday's flight.
"It was an emotional moment for me, personally, to watch this majestic bird take flight", exclaimed Stratolaunch CEO Jean Floyd after the mission.
The pilots that flew the behemoth of an aircraft had to carry out a long to-do list including flight-control maneuvers and simulating landing approach exercises.
At 6:58 AM PT, this elegant bird created to carry aloft and launch rockets into orbit lifted off from Mohave Air and Space Port in Mohave, California.
The mobile launch platform aims to enable airline-style access to space as its centre wing can support multiple launch vehicles, weighing up to a total of 500,000 pounds. While it does have the largest wingspan, it does not have the longest nose-to-tail length. It is wider than any airplane on the planet, according to a CNN report.
Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975, announced in 2011 that he had formed the privately funded Stratolaunch.
"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". Dozens of photographers, industry bloggers and aerospace enthusiasts gathered this week to glimpse the unique twin-fuselage plane.