Six years ago, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen began working on a giant aircraft that would be capable of launching rockets to space. In May 2017, his company Stratolaunch Systems literally rolled that plane out of its hangar at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California for the first time. Paul unveiled the world’s largest aircraft, ‘Stratolaunch’ in Jun. 2017 and it looks straight out of a sci-fi movie.
The plane has a 385-foot wingspan longer than a football field and comes equipped with two cockpits, 28 wheels and six 747 engines.
The aircraft weighs 500,000 pounds empty, can carry 250,000 pounds of fuel, and with payload can take off at a maximum weight of 1.3 million pounds.
On launch missions, Stratolaunch will carry as many as three rockets attached to the centre of the wing between the two fuselages. The rockets will be released, ignite their engines and carry small satellites weighing up to 1,000 pounds to low Earth orbit.
It has already gone through two taxi tests in the past few months, with top speeds of 28-mph and 46-mph. Three more tests are planned to see if can reach the required take-off speed of 138-mph.
The plane is the vision of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen who wants it to act as a giant air pad in the sky, allowing payloads to reach space faster and at a lower cost than existing technologies.