The World's Largest Airplane Could be Grounded After Just its First Flight

The company reportedly was already on the way out the door after the passing of its founder Paul Allen.
Donovan Alexander

How much do you know about the Spruce Goose? Built by the eccentric, aviation, and film pioneer Howard Hughes, the Hughes Flying Boat was considered the largest aircraft ever built with a wingspan longer than a football field with the end goal of carrying 700 men to battle

Like a lot of the inventor's creations, the plane was considered a major innovative feat at the time promising a new age of transportation for the military. Yet, just after one successful test flight, the plane was grounded never to take to the skies again. 


It seems history might be on track to repeat itself. Stratolauch, the company founded by the late billionaire and Microsoft Corp co-founder Paul Allen is reportedly shutting down operations according to sources from Reuters.

The World's Largest Airplane Could be Grounded After Just its First Flight
Source: Stratolaunch

This comes as a shock as the company just successfully tested its Stratolaunch aircraft earlier this year, promising to challenge traditional aerospace companies in a new space race. 

Grounded Until Further Notice

According to Ars Technica, rumors of the company shutting down have been prevalent since the passing of Paul Allen. Most figured the rumors were true when the company abandoned their original plans to create the series of rockets for their flagship plane. 

The plane itself was a major feat onto itself. Taking flight this past April, the Stratolaunch aircraft gained the title as the largest plane in the world with its 384 -foot wingspan. During its test flight, the plane reached speeds of 189 mph and heights of 17,000 feet during its 150-minute flight. Though taking eight years to make, the plane itself has not been tested since. 

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The plane itself held the promise of contributing to the overall vision of Stratolaunch, which include lowering the cost of space flight as well as facilitating the launch of the rockets into low orbit and perhaps beyond. 

The World's Largest Airplane Could be Grounded After Just its First Flight
Source: Stratolaunch

Reuters reported: "Stratolaunch planned medium-lift rocket would fly as early as 2022 and said it was in the early stages of developing a variant with a larger payload capacity. It also said it was designing a reusable space plane to carry cargo to and from Earth and a follow-on variant that could carry people."

At the moment a unit of Paul Allen's privately held company, Vulcan Inc is currently exploring the possible sale of Stratolaunch’s assets and intellectual property.       

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