Microsoft co-founder and business giant Paul G. Allen has been funding the construction of the Stratolaunch aircraft, a low Earth orbit craft with a wingspan of 385 feet, since 2011. Now, the first enormous plane has rolled out of the hangar in Mojave, California.
The Stratolaunch vehicle is designed to carry spacecraft into low-Earth orbit, where they can be released to deliver satellites or other payloads. It weighs 500,000 pounds and measures 238 ft. from nose to tail. Despite its size, part of the goal was to make it a versatile aircraft that can utilize multiple launch sites, including airports.
Stratolaunch plans to do their first launch test with one Orbital ATK Pegasus XL craft in 2019.
“This marks a historic step in our work to achieve Paul G. Allen’s vision of normalizing access to low Earth orbit,” said Jean Floyd, Stratolaunch Systems Corporation CEO, in a press release. “It is proud day for us at Stratolaunch, for our partners at Scaled Composites, and for our founder Paul Allen. We have a lot of exciting activity ahead as we enter the testing process, and we look forward to sharing our progress during the coming months.”
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense