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The world's largest airplane took its first flight early Saturday. The Stratolaunch, a six-engine, twin-fuselage behemoth with a 385-foot wingspan, took off from Mojave after years in development. The aircraft was conceived by Paul Allen and Scaled Composites founder Burt Rutan as an aerial launch platform for low Earth orbit satellites. The aircraft is designed to take rocket weighing as much as 400,000 pounds to 35,000 feet for launch and to launch into the burgeoning market for communications, reconnaissance and broadband satellites being placed between 300 and 1

,200 miles in altitude. It's hoping for a first launch in 2020.

As stratolaunch embarks on the long and costly certification process for the aircraft, Virgin Orbit is preparing to launch a competitive service using the long-established Boeing 747-400 as its platform. Although the jumbo jet will not carry as much as the stratolaunch, it's still going to be a significant slice of the market for small satellite launches and it is looking to be in business by the middle of this year. "Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart said Wednesday in a statement."

"Orbit CEO Dan Hart said:" We are well on our way to offering new satellites that have waited too long for their ride to space. "