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> Can take off on it's own, assistance (RATO, catapults) is allowed for short take-offs (like from a carrier);

Well, by that definition I think the X-15 isn't a plane - it required a B-52 mothership to launch after all. IMO it's hard to find a definition of "plane" that includes the X-15 but not the Space Shuttle stack (not the orbiter on its own - the full stack).




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