Back
The New Largest Airplane Makes It's Debut        

The Stratolaunch to Carry Rockets, Not Passengers

June 2, 2017

Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, founded Stratolaunch 6 years ago – this week the massive aircraft rolled out of hiding to start a series of fuel tests. The plane has a 385-foot wingspan and has been on reserve in Mojave, Calfinora. The plane’s purpose is to transport rockets closer to space where they will carry satellites. This rocket (plane) ship stands at a whopping 50 feet tall and has been rolling around in the desert on 28 wheels. When it’ll be ready to officially launch in 2019, it’ll be able to carry 500,000 pounds up into the atmosphere.


The 28-wheeled, 6 engine, twin hull Stratolaunch Aircraft.

The hopes of an aircraft this massive is that it will be able to transport rockets without using nearly as much energy (and money) as a rocket would flying solo through the atmosphere.
Stratolaunch isn’t the first massive airplane to be introduced though, it has a few predecessors. In 1947 the “Spruce-Goose” was famously designed by Howard Hughes and had a wingspan of 320 feet. His aircraft only flew once but lives on in the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in Oregon.


Howard Hughes’ famous Spruce Goose.

The Ukraine aviation company, Antonov, built the 640 ton cargo plane, An-225. It was introduced in the 1980’s, is the largest and heaviest airplane to date (before Stratolaunch this week) and can carry over 400,000 pounds. Production recently was reinstated after China proposed an agreement with the Antonov to try and get the plane back into service a year ago.


The An-225 gets it’s second wind with help from Chinese aviation company.

These large planes have been tinkered with for decades and recently we have seen their potential become closer to a reality. For example, SpaceShip Two is the aircraft that will ideally take commercial passengers up into space. Virgin Galactic’s WhiteNightTwo is a four engine, “double” hanger that will carry the SpaceShip Two up into orbit where it will launch up to 8 passengers into orbit. Richard Branson hopes his flights will start their space destinations as soon as this year.


Richard Branson is hoping his Virgin passengers will be able to make their next destination into space.

Up Down