Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen first announced the Stratolaunch aircraft way back in 2011 and after four years of construction in the California desert, the world's largest plane (by wingspan) rolled out of its hangar for the first time, Wednesday. "Today, we're moving the Stratolaunch aircraft out of the hangar – for the first time ever – to conduct aircraft fueling tests. This marks the completion of the initial aircraft construction phase and the beginning of the aircraft ground and flight testing phase," said Jean Floyd, CEO, Stratolaunch Systems Corporation in a release on the official Stratolaunch website. The Stratolaunch aircraft boasts a wingspan larger than a football field and is designed to carry rockets into the stratosphere at about 35,000 feet. Once aloft, the rocket would drop and fire its engines and "air-launch" to orbit.
The world's biggest plane is a step closer to its first flight. Named Stratolaunch, the colossal aircraft successfully fired all six of its Pratt and Whitney turbofan engines - each weighing 8,940lbs (4,000kg) - for the first time this week. The plane is the vision of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen who wants it to act as a giant air pad in the sky, allowing payloads to reach space faster and at a lower cost than existing technologies.
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen unveiled the world's largest aircraft on Wednesday. The massive plane rolled out by Allen's aerospace firm, Stratolaunch Systems, features the longest wingspan of any aircraft ever built, according to Popular Mechanics. With a wingspan of 385 feet, the six-engine plane will be larger than Howard Hughes' 1947 H-4 Hercules, known as the'Spruce Goose,' and the Antonov An-225, a Soviet-era cargo plane originally built to transport the Buran space shuttle that is currently the world's largest aircraft. The Stratolaunch is an aircraft that is designed to carry rockets between its two fuselages. In 2011, the project's cost was initially estimated to be at $300million, though there is no word as to the updated figures.
LOS ANGELES – Billionaire Paul G. Allen's Stratolaunch, a massive aircraft designed to launch rockets into space from high altitude, has been rolled out of its hangar for the first time in preparation for testing. The Stratolaunch aircraft is enormous, with a wingspan totaling 385 feet (117 meters), longer than the wingspan of any other aircraft and greater than the length of an American football field. Its twin fuselages stretch 238 feet. By comparison, the H-4 flying boat -- nicknamed Spruce Goose and built by Howard Hughes in the 1940s -- has a 320-foot (97.5-meter) wingspan and is just under 219 feet (67 meters) long. Among commonly seen aircraft, the double-decker Airbus A380's wings span 262 feet (nearly 80 meters).
On Saturday morning, exactly 45 minutes after the sun began to rise over the Mojave Desert, the largest airplane ever created--and its record-breaking 385-foot wingspan--took off for the very first time. The aircraft, from the company Stratolaunch, has been eight years in the making. By 2022, the company hopes to use the twin-fuselage, six-engined, catamaran-style aircraft to launch satellite-bearing rockets into space. "All of you have been very patient and very tolerant over the years waiting for us to get this big bird off the ground, and we finally did it," Stratolaunch CEO Jean Floyd told reporters on a press call. The company reported the airplane hit speeds of 189 mph and heights of 17,000-feet during its 150-minute test flight, before landing safely at the Mojave Air and Space Port.