Stratolaunch: The Rocket-Launching Aircraft Longer Than a Football Field Unveiled!

Stratolaunch: The Rocket-Launching Aircraft Longer Than a Football Field Unveiled!

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has rolled out the phenomenal Stratolaunch aircraft, the world's largest plane by wingspan, to begin its fuel tests, which marks the completion of the initial construction phase. This is a key milestone for the aircraft as it aims to provide convenient, reliable, and routine access to low Earth orbit.

Stratolaunch aircraft

Weighing at a whopping 500,000 lbs, the aircraft is 385 ft in length making it wider than a National Football League field at only 360 ft. From ground to the top of the vertical tail, the aircraft stands at 50 ft and measuring  238 ft from its nose to tail.

Stratolaunch: The Rocket-Launching Aircraft Longer Than a Football Field Unveiled!

[Image Source: Stratolaunch]

Stratolaunch was designed and built by 300 engineers and fabricators from the aerospace company called Scaled Composites. They have hand-assembled the twin fuselage vehicle to be an air launch platform with the ability to carry a maximum payload of 550,000 lbs.

Stratolaunch: The Rocket-Launching Aircraft Longer Than a Football Field Unveiled!

[Image Source: Stratolaunch]

The aircraft uses six Boeing 747 engines and have an operational range of 2,000 nautical miles. In a single mission, Stratolaunch can deliver payloads to multiple orbits and inclinations. Having the reusability and air-launching attributes, the aircraft enables the company to take an airport-style approach to operations when launching. Like a commercial airplane, Stratolaunch will take off from a runway rather than vulnerable launch location so it can avoid hazards such as extreme cold weathers, airborne traffic, and heavy marine activity.
Stratolaunch: The Rocket-Launching Aircraft Longer Than a Football Field Unveiled!

[Image Source: Stratolaunch]

Stratolaunch is the reality of Paul Allen's vision to normalize access to low Earth orbit that would create more opportunities for commercial, governmental, and philanthropic organizations to reach space. By having convenient access to such opportunities, our civilization would make significant leaps in science, research, and technology from space.

Allen has emphasized the importance of having a new and advanced technology in tackling some of the world's major issues.

"Opening up access to LEO will deliver many benefits. For example, we could deploy more satellites that would enable a better understanding of why our weather patterns are changing and help increase agricultural productivity. And, we could study atmospheric chemistry more closely to better study and mitigate climate change. But none of this will happen as quickly without exploring new, flexible and streamlined ways to send satellites into orbit".

Back view of the stratolaunch aircraft

[Image Source: Stratolaunch]

The aircraft's airborne launch platform will reduce the consequence of enduring expensive delays and cancellations.

In the next weeks and months, Stratolaunch will be conducting ground and flight line testing at their Mojave Air and Space Port. The company's main priority in the scheduled testing is their pilots, crew, and staff's safety. With everything on track, Stratolaunch is expected to perform its initial launch demonstration as early as 2019.

Stratolaunch: The Rocket-Launching Aircraft Longer Than a Football Field Unveiled!

[Image Source: Stratolaunch]

Founder Paul Allen shared his optimistic visions for the future of space travel and Stratolaunch's role in this futuristic movement.

"As always, space remains an unforgiving frontier, and the skies overhead will surely present obstacles and setbacks that must be overcome. But hard challenges demand fresh approaches, and I’m optimistic that Stratolaunch will yield transformative benefits – not only for scientists and space entrepreneurs but for all of us".

Sources: Stratolaunch, Scaled Composites

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