Stratolaunch, world’s biggest aircraft, rolls out

The world’s biggest aircraft, the Stratolaunch, was revealed in its full glory yesterday when it was moved out of the hangar where it has been constructed.

The six engine, twin hull aircraft weighs 500,000lb (227,000kg) empty, 1,300,000lb (590,000kg) at gross weight, has a wingspan of 385ft (117m) and is 238ft (72.5m) long. It’s also 50ft (15.2m) tall.

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Stratolaunch is the idea of Paul G Allen, co-founder of Microsoft (and a very wealthy man). Allen’s vision is “normalizing access to low Earth orbit”. The plan is to deliver payloads to multiple space stations orbiting the Earth and to be re-usable.

“Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be actively conducting ground and flightline testing at the Mojave Air and Space Port,” said Jean Floyd,  Chief Executive Officer of Stratolaunch Systems Corporation.

“This is a first-of-its-kind aircraft, so we’re going to be diligent throughout testing and continue to prioritise the safety of our pilots, crew and staff. Stratolaunch is on track to perform its first launch demonstration as early as 2019.”

Stratolaunch is the world’s largest aircraft by wingspan and is the largest all-composite plane ever built. It has six Boeing 747 engines for a payload capacity of over 500,000lb and an operational range of approximately 2,000nm.