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Giant Stratolaunch aircraft lifts off from California




LOS ANGELES (AP) — A giant six-engine aircraft with the world’s longest wingspan landed its first flight after some two hours in the air Saturday.

The behemoth, twin-fuselage Stratolaunch jet lifted off from Mojave Air and Space Port and climbed into the desert sky 70 miles north of Los Angeles. Founded by the late billionaire Paul G. Allen, Stratolaunch is vying to be a contender in the market for air-launching small satellites.

The aircraft is designed to carry as many as three satellite-laden rockets at a time under the center of its enormous wing, which stretches 385 feet — a longer wingspan than any other aircraft. At an altitude of 35,000 feet, the rockets would be released, ignite their engines and soar into space.

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