World’s Largest Aircraft Nears Historic Launch

World’s Largest Aircraft Nears Historic Launch

Stratolaunch Systems, the company founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in 2011, is one step closer to reaching it’s goal: making access to space more convenient, reliable, and routine. That’s because they just tested all 6 engines on the world’s largest aircraft, the Stratolaunch, which will serve as an airborne launch platform for rockets headed to space.

Meet the World’s Largest Aircraft

The Stratolaunch is capable of carrying payloads up to 550,000 pounds. It’s 117 meter (385 foot) wingspan is wider than a football field. It gets its power from no less than six 747 engines and has 28 wheels. It will have a maximum takeoff weight of 1.3 million pounds. It weighs 500,000 pounds without fuel.

When will the Stratolaunch become Operational?

After unveiling the aircraft in May, the company has been taking it slow. Over the next several months they will continue testing Stratolaunch’s engines and will start taxiing on the ground. It’s first mission will be to help launch Orbital ATK’s Pegasus XL rocket, a relatively small rocket capable of carrying satellites of up to 1,000 pounds in weight.

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