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World’s largest plane makes first test flight

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The world’s largest airplane — a Stratolaunch behemoth with two fuselages and six Boeing 747 engines — made its first test flight on Saturday in California.

The mega jet carried out its maiden voyage over the Mojave desert.

It is designed to carry into space, and drop, a rocket that would in turn ignite to deploy satellites.

It is supposed to provide a more flexible way to deploy satellites than vertical takeoff rockets because this way all you need is a long runway for takeoff.

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It was built by an engineering company called Scaled Composites.

The aircraft is so big its wing span is longer than a football field, or about 1.5 times that of an Airbus A380.

Specifically, the wing span is 117 meters; that of an Airbus A380 is just under 80.

The plane flew Saturday for about two and a half hours, Stratolaunch said. Until now, it had just carried out tests on the ground.

It hit a top speed of 304 kilometers per hour (189 mph) and reached an altitude of 17,000 feet, or 5,182 meters.

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“What a fantastic first flight,” said Jean Floyd, CEO of Stratolaunch.

“Today’s flight furthers our mission to provide a flexible alternative to ground launched systems,” he added.

Stratolaunch was financed by Paul Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft as a way to get into the market for launching small satellites.

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But Allen died in October of last year so the future of the company is uncertain.


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SpaceX readies for blast-off with NASA astronauts aboard

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Gray skies loomed over Florida's Atlantic coast Tuesday, just one day before two astronauts were set to blast off aboard a SpaceX capsule on the most dangerous and prestigious mission NASA has ever entrusted to a private company.

There was a 60 percent chance for favorable weather for Wednesday's flight, according to Tuesday's latest Cape Canaveral forecast.

US astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley have been in strict quarantine for two weeks ahead of their trip on the brand-new Crew Dragon capsule, which will be propelled by a Falcon 9 rocket.

Both the capsule and the rocket were manufactured by SpaceX, the start-up founded in 2002 by the then-thirty-something Elon Musk, a brilliant and brash Mars-obsessive who made his fortune with PayPal and also created the famous Tesla electric cars.

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DOJ closes insider trading investigations against three senators — but is still investigating Richard Burr: report

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On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Justice Department officials are closing insider trading investigations into three senators — Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), and Jim Inhofe (R-OK).

However, a fourth probe, into insider trading allegations against Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), is reportedly ongoing.

"The Federal Bureau of Investigation began the investigations two months ago, as reports emerged that several members of Congress, their spouses or their investment advisers sold hundreds of thousands of dollars in stock after lawmakers attended closed-door briefings about the threat posed by the new coronavirus," reported Aruna Viswanatha. "Some of those trades spared lawmakers as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses as stocks sank by mid-March."

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White House insider says Trump spent Memorial Day weekend ‘in a rage’ – and sees himself as COVID-19’s biggest victim

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An inside source speaking to Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman says President Trump spent his Memorial Day weekend "in a f*cking rage" over what he sees is his unfair treatment over his response to the coronavirus outbreak. Even as the death toll neared 100,000 and unemployment swelled to over 38 million, Trump still sees himself as the victim, Sherman writes.

"Trump’s outburst reflected his growing frustration that, at this stage of the race, he is losing to Joe Biden," writes Sherman. "According to a Republican briefed on the campaign’s internal polls, Trump is trailing Biden by double digits among women over 50 in six swing states. 'Trump knows the numbers are bad. It’s why he’s thrashing about,' the Republican said."

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