Stratolaunch Plans To Take Flight This Summer
The world’s largest plane, Stratolaunch, could be just months away from its first flight. At the 34th Space Symposium in Colorado, Stratolaunch revealed it’s now preparing for the plane’s maiden flight this summer.
The aircraft – which is the vision of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen – has a wingspan longer than a football field and comes equipped with two cockpits, 28 wheels and six engines normally used to power 747 jumbo jets.
Eventually it will be used to transport rockets carrying satellites and people into the Earth’s upper atmosphere, where they will blast off into space.
It has already gone through two taxi tests these past few months, with top speeds hitting 28 mph and 46 mph.
According to Space News, Stratolaunch has to reach taxi speeds up to 80 mph and then 138 mph during its next tests — to note, typical jetliners have to go as fast as 150 to 180 mph to take off. Stratolaunch passed its previous tests without needing any modification, so the company is optimistic that it’ll be able to fly for the first time this year.
Eventually, Allen and his Stratolaunch team envision creating a launch system that makes getting into space as easy as scheduling a trip from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., on an ordinary airplane — that is, an airplane that doesn’t have six engines, two fuselages and a wing that’s wider than a football field.
The plane still has to go through three more taxi tests before it can fly, the company said.