This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
The Antonov held the title of world’s largest plane from 1988 until last week, when the “Stratolaunch” was unveiled.
Stratolaunch Systems, a company backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, rolled out the gargantuan aircraft at its hangar at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California, where construction of the aircraft began a few years back.
With a wingspan measuring 385 feet, Stratolaunch is the world’s largest aircraft by wingspan and the largest all-composite aircraft ever built. Powered by six Boeing 747 engines, the aircraft has a payload capacity of over 500,000 pounds and an operational range of about 2,000 nautical miles (about 2,300 miles).
In line with Allen’s goal of achieving convenient, reliable and routine access to low Earth orbit, Stratolaunch was designed to launch medium-sized payloads using a version of SpaceX‘s Falcon 9 rocket. The partnership, however, didn’t last long, with both companies parting ways just a little over a year later. For now, Stratolaunch Systems is focused on the growing demand for small satellites, partnering with Orbital ATK to launch up to three Pegasus XL rockets between the two fuselages.
“This marks the completion of the initial aircraft construction phase and the beginning of the aircraft ground and flight testing phase,” said Jean Floyd, Chief Executive of Stratolaunch Systems, in a statement about the rollout. According to the company, the program is expected to perform its first launch demonstration in 2019.
Who else is as excited as we are to see this thing fly?
Featured image courtesy of Stratolaunch Systems.
Know before you go.
News and deals straight to your inbox every day.
Earn unlimited 10x miles on hotel stays booked and paid through hotels.com/venture. Pair that with the Hotels.com Rewards program and you'll essentially be getting 20% off of hotel bookings! With the 50,000 mile sign-up bonus you can get up to $700 in value based on TPG's most recent valuations and you'll have the flexibility to transfer those miles to participating airline partners or redeem those miles on any purchase for airfare, hotel stays, car rentals and more.
- Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
- Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels, through January 2020; learn more at hotels.com/venture
- Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
- Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
- Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
- Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
- No foreign transaction fees
- $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that