Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft along with Bill Gates unveiled the Stratolaunch, the world’s largest plane. The Stratolaunch, designed by the company Stratolaunch Systems is specifically designed to carry spaceships. Its main goal is to carry spacecraft to low earth orbit in order to decrease the energy required for them to get to space.
Stratolaunch is the all-composite, world’s largest plane ever built. It consists of the wingspan of 117 meters (about one-and-a-quarter times the height of the statue of liberty). It weighs about 500,000 pounds dry, but that can swell to a maximum takeoff weight of 1.3 million pounds. The aircraft is 238 ft. from nose to tail and stands 50 ft. tall from the ground to the top of the vertical tail.
The operational range of it is about 2,000 nautical miles. It carries all the weight across the ground on 28 wheels and in air through six 747 aircraft engines propelled inside it.
In real, Allen’s primary goal is to provide convenient, reliable, and routine access to low Earth orbit. His plan is to use the Stratolaunch plane as an airborne rocket launcher. Instead of taking off from a launchpad, which requires lots of fuel, Stratolaunch will give rockets a head start by first carrying them up into the sky.
He noted, “The company will stage its first demonstration in 2019, and already has its first client — private spaceflight company Orbital ATK which plans to use the plane to launch its Pegasus XL rocket, which is used to send small satellites into space.”
The company reported, “This is a first-of-its-kind aircraft. So we’re going to be diligent throughout testing and continue to prioritize the safety of our pilots, crew, and staff. Stratolaunch is on track to perform its first launch demonstration as early as 2019.”