Stratolaunch, The World’s Largest Aircraft And Can Launch Rockets, Takes First Flight

The Stratolaunch is almost twice as big as a Boeing 747, with a wingspan of 117 meters. It has three wings, one of which is in the center, six Pratt & Wʜɪᴛney engines positioned on 28 wheels, and two identical fuselages. What is the overall weight of it? 

One or more launch vehicles are deployed as soon as it reaches its cruising altitude, which is roughly 10 kilometers. This enables the fast construction of constellations at different inclinations. The Stratolaunch returns to the runway to refuel for its upcoming mission as the launch vehicles travel towards space. It can also avoid bad weather, which would prevent a rocket from launching from a stationary platform.

The Stratolaunch’s range will be 2,000 nautical miles, or about the same as an Airbus A319 plane. In order to save the cost of development, its engines, some of its landing gear, and the flight deck were “cannibalized” from two decommissioned Boeing 747s. Since 2011, the aircraft has been in development. It was hauled out of the specially built hangar in 2017, and in 2018 it had its maiden high-speed taxi test. 

Because Stratolaunch is an “air launch” mechanism, rockets will be transported by aircraft up to 35,000 feet before being fired. One benefit of such a system, as promoted by Stratolaunch and Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit, is that it allows greater flexibility and, eventually, faster turnaround between launches by flying in and out of a normal runway.

Now, let’s take a look at Stratolaunch’s first flight in the video below:

Source: Stratolaunch

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