Stratolaunch Systems, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s aviation firm has just rolled out the much awaited world’s largest twin aircraft today weighing 227,000kg and resting on 28 wheels for the first time to undergo fueling tests.
The Stratolaunch aircraft is the world’s largest plane by wingspan, measuring 385 ft.(117m) against the previous record holder the Spruce Goose with 97.5m from wingtip to wingtip. By comparison, it is as big as a National Football League field spanning 360 ft. The aircraft is 238 ft. from nose to tail and stands 50 ft. tall from the ground to the top of the vertical tail.
The Stratolaunch aircraft is designed for a maximum takeoff weight of 1,300,000 lbs., meaning it’s capable of carrying payloads up to approximately 250,000kg or 550,000 lbs. “This marks the completion of the initial aircraft construction phase and the beginning of the aircraft ground and flight testing phase,” said Stratolaunch CEO Jean Floyd in a statement.
Stratolaunch will initially launch a single Orbital ATK Pegasus XL vehicle with the capability to launch up to three Pegasus vehicles in a single sortie mission and preparations are already underway for launch vehicle delivery to their Mojave facility in California, said Floyd. Stratolaunch will undergo all ground and air test in the next two years to be prepared for its inaugural flight in 2019, said Floyd.
“We’re actively exploring a broad spectrum of launch vehicles that will enable us to provide more flexibility to customers,” which the world largest aircraft Stratolaunch will fulfil, in keeping with Paul Allen’s dream to make low-orbit travel accessible to many.
Paul Allen in a LinkedIn post last year said that he was inspired by memories from second-grade of Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becoming the first man in space. “Like millions of others, I was enthralled by the idea of space exploration, and have been ever since,” he wrote in his LinkedIn post.
Here is a photo gallery of Stratolaunch aircraft, which moved out of the hangar to conduct aircraft fueling tests, marking the completion of the initial aircraft construction phase and transition into the aircraft ground and flight testing phase. (Photos credit: Stratolaunch Systems Corp.)