Stratolaunch: The largest aircraft ever built will soon launch rockets into space
In 2016, the Stratolaunch will make its first flight and will then officially become the largest aircraft in the world. The Stratolaunch is being built in the Mojave Air and Space Port in California by the aerospace company Scaled Composites which is in charge of building this gigantic plane with two fuselages, six jet engines, and a wingspan of 385 feet (117 meters). “If you were to put the center of this airplane on a football field,” said Scaled Composites president Kevin Mickey, “its wingtips would extend beyond the goalposts by about 15 feet on each side.”
Its dimensions make it 65 feet (20 meters) wider than the legendary Hughes H-4 “Spruce Goose”, 95 feet (29 meters) wider than the Antonov An-225 and 123 feet (37 meters) wider than the Airbus A380, which is the world’s largest passenger airplane. In fact, the Stratolaunch is being built around a pair of retired Boeing 747s.
Of course, this is not an easy project, and it’s not surprising to find out that the brain behind this project is Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. But it wasn’t created to be the largest aircraft in the world, this is merely a consequence. Allen wants to revolutionize space travel by changing the way the satellites are launched into space. The Stratolaunch was designed to carry a rocket equipped with a satellite between its two fuselages. After reaching a determined altitude, the rocket is launched off into space to release the satellite. The combined weight of the Stratolaunch and the rocket is estimated at almost 600 tons.