World’s Largest Airplane Gets Ready for Maiden Flight

Stratolaunch Systems

Stratolaunch Systems

Private spaceflight company Stratolaunch Systems brought the world’s largest airplane (by wingspan) out of its hangar for the first time recently.

Called the Stratolaunch, the massive aircraft successfully tested out all six of its Pratt and Whitney turbofan engines, each weighing 8,940 lbs. (4,000 kg), at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California.

Here are some of the mind-boggling specifications of the Stratolaunch:

  • Boasting a wingspan longer than a football field, Stratolaunch is one of the world’s largest aircraft today.
  • It weighs approx 500,000 lbs. without any cargo.
  • Its maximum takeoff weight of 1.3 million among the heaviest in the world.
  • The aircraft can carry over 500,000 lbs. (230,000 kg) of payload.
  • Stratolaunch has 28 wheels and will require a runway at least 12,000 ft. (3,700 meters) long.
  • It is designed to carry rockets between its two fuselages.
  • Stratolaunch will be used as a launch platform to send rockets into orbit from an altitude of 30,000 feet (9,100 meters).

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen founded Stratolaunch Systems in 2011 with a vision to “provide convenient, reliable and routine access to low-Earth orbit.”

The Stratolaunch will undergo numerous ground tests and engine runs before making its first flight in 2019.

Nidhi Goyal

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