Plane bigger than a football pitch spotted carrying hypersonic weapon jet

A plane with a 117-metre wingspan has been spotted carrying a hypersonic vehicle into the air for the first time, bringing us one step closer to deadly fast rocketry.

The Stratolaunch aircraft, which has a wingspan wider than a football pitch, carried a 28-foot-long Talon A hypersonic test aircraft capable of flying payloads at five times the speed of sound.

It took off over the Mojave desert in California and flew for five hours and six minutes, reaching altitudes of 7000 metres.

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The test flight proved that it is capable of launching hypersonic aircraft in mid-air and even into outer space, pending further tests.

Dr Zachary Krevor, CEO of space company Stratolaunch, said: "Testing and production are accelerating as we push forward to meet our commitment of providing hypersonic flight test service to our customers next year.

"Our team will continue accomplishing more complex test milestones as we progress to our first hypersonic flight."

The plane weighs around 230,000kg but could potentially lift off carrying more than 589,000kg. It's almost twice the size of a Boeing-747 jet, and is designed to one day launch hypersonic research vehicles into orbit.

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Hypersonic flight is widely considered the next frontier for aviation and the private space industry, as it could drastically cut down flight times.

Both Russia and China are reportedly testing hypersonic missiles for military uses, as is the UK which launched its 'killer penguin' hypersonic weapon project earlier this year.

The technology could even one day be used for passenger flights, cutting down UK-Australia travel down to three hours.


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