The ultra-wide double-plus-big Stratolaunch dual-fuselage aeroplane took its first flight test Saturday morning from a desert runway in Mojave, California. The plane weighs half a million pounds, and is intended to be a launching mothership for space rockets.
Billionaires are taking to space the way wistful young men take to the sea in 19th Century novels. Last week, Elon Musk launched his Tesla Roadster at the astroid belt using the world's most powerful rocket currently in operation. Not to be outdone, Microsoft's co-founder Paul Allen also has a big plan (and a big plane) for going to space.
The intent of this plane is to strap a small rocket between the two fuselage to fly it up to near the edge of the stratosphere, at over 10,668.00m. In this way the rocket will not need the expensive and fuel laden stages to get its cargo into orbit (below). This plane intends to serve the same purpose as SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rockets, but ostensibly to more efficient ends.
Much of the Stratolauncher’s systems are adapted from a Boeing 747-400, which is where the engines, avionics, landing gear, flight deck, and other systems are adapted from.
— Jack Beyer (@thejackbeyer) April 13, 2019
Regardless of its purpose, the Stratolauncher is officially the largest aeroplane humanity has ever put up in the air. It’s got a 117.35m wingspan. It’s cliche to describe something this way, but this plane’s wingspan is literally longer than a football field, including the end zones. It’s a big boy. And it flies. Astonishing.
Via The Verge