On Wednesday, Stratolaunch rolled its low-orbit-launch aircraft out of the company's hangar in the California desert for the first time.
Stratolaunch - which is created to release rockets that will carry satellites into space - has a 385-foot wingspan, features six engines used by the Boeing 747, stands 50 feet tall and can carry more than 500,000 pounds of payload.
Billionaire Paul Allen's private spaceflight company Stratolaunch has just unveiled the world's biggest airplane: a massive carrier plane with a wingspan longer than an entire football field. This makes it stand out as the world's largest aircraft, which sports six engines used by the Boeing 747 airplane and has a wingspan of 385 feet and measures 238 feet from the nose to tail and stands 50 feet tall from the ground.
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The plane, designed by Stratolaunch Systems, has a wingspan larger than a football field and is created to carry rockets into the stratosphere, before being fired into space.
Stratolaunch Systems announced Thursday that the scaffolding had now been removed as the 227,000kg aircraft, also named Stratolaunch, was allowed to rest on its own 28 wheels for the first time in order to undergo fueling tests.
In a statement, Stratolaunch's chief executive, Jean Floyd said that ground tests and flight tests will be conducted "over the coming weeks and months", and its first launch is set for 2019. If Allen's full ambitions are realized, the company will be able to send crewed missions into space at a lower price than Russian Federation is charging NASA. Once the Stratolaunch gets to an altitude of 35,000 feet or so, the Pegasus XL rockets would drop and then head for their final destination in space. Without fuel, the plane weighs 500,000 pounds. He, and others, such as Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit, are betting that they can reduce the cost of launching small satellites to space. It requires an insane 12,000-foot runway, which is over two miles and considerably longer than a passenger jet's requirements. It added that it's begun preparations for delivering the launch vehicle to its Mojave facilities. Northrop Grumman Corp. subsidiary, Scaled Composites, is building the craft. The one-of-a-kind aircraft is created to carry satellite payloads to about 30,000 feet, where they can be launched into low Earth orbit.