First glimpse of the world's largest plane

 

the mighty stratolaunch airplane has emerged from its hangar in the mojave desert, california for the first time ever. the giant craft is being built by microsoft co-founder paul allen, who intends for the majestic machine to be used to launch rockets into space. with wings reaching out over a huge 385 ft, the stratolaunch takes the title of the world’s largest airplane by wingspan, and also bags the record for world’s largest all-composite plane. in total, the craft takes up the same amount of space as a football pitch.

the startolaunch emerges from its hangar in california for the first time
images courtesy of stratolaunch

currently, as stratolaunch is not yet airborne, it rolls its weight along on 28 wheels. eventually, six boeing 747 engines will power the mega-plane into the sky. in addition to its 500,000 lbs weight, stratolaunch manages to lift a heavy payload, taking its maximum weight up to 1.3 million lbs over an operational range of around 2,000 nautical miles.

the majestic craft takes up the same area as a football pitch

so why do we need a plane to launch rockets, when they can already be sent into space from the ground? well, launching rockets from the stratolaunch will give them a head start on their journey, saving fuel costs and making access to space more convenient, reliable, and routine. 

the craft has a wingspan of 385 ft

‘we believe that normalizing access to low Earth orbit (LEO) has the potential to redefine our lives,’ reads allen’s company missionstatement. ‘it will do this by creating more opportunities for commercial, philanthropic and governmental organizations to collect rich and actionable data and drive advancements in science, research, and technology from space.’ stratolaunch is currently under construction at the mojave air & space port in mojave, california. allen aims for the plane to be fully operational by the end of this decade.

the craft is intended to be used as a launch pad for rockets

an airborne launchpad will make space travel easier and more accessible

the stratolaunch can carry a payload of 500,000 lbs

the craft is powered by six boeing 747 engines

the craft rolls along the ground on 28 wheels

the stratolaunch will take to the skies by the end of the decade

from Designboom