The debut flight of the world’s biggest aircraft (in terms of wingspan) is near. The project is being completed by Stratolaunch Systems Corp in California – and they just released a video testing the aircraft.
The Latest Update
Seattle-based Stratolaunch System Corp was founded by Paul Allen – an original co-founder of Microsoft. He recently tweeted that the tests verified control responses – a follow-up to the first tests that were done in December.
What Recent Tests Show
This aircraft boasts two fuselages, six engines, and went as fast as forty knots during a runway test. The runway it was tested on was runway thirty at Mojave Air and Space Port. Runway thirty is twelve thousand, five-hundred and three feet long. This is important, because it gave the aircraft plenty of time to reach top speed, as well as decelerate, during the test.
The Size of Stratolaunch
On the other hand, runway thirty is only two-hundred feet wide. Meanwhile, the wingspan of the aircraft is three-hundred and eighty-five feet wide – making it nearly twice as wide as the runway itself. In addition, the aircraft is over two-hundred feet long and weighs in at more than five-hundred thousand pounds. This should give readers an idea of how enormous this aircraft truly is.
Issues With Stratolaunch
The main issue with Stratolaunch is the amount of weight it can carry.
Essentially, the Stratolaunch will only be able to launch small satellites with some astronauts. But there are competitors who are capable of launching much larger spacecrafts.
Another drawback is the cost. Stratolaunch is expected to cost about three-hundred million dollars by the time it’s complete.
Why is Stratolaunch Needed?
So why does Stratolaunch System Corp even want to build an aircraft so big? The goal is simple: to be able to send rockets from the air into space. Believe it or not, this is a cheaper option to get satellites in position to orbit the Earth. It is also believed it will be a more reliable method once mastered. But before Stratolaunch System Corp can reach this goal, they’ll have to be able to get this monster aircraft off the runway first. It’s first test flight is expected to come some time in late 2018.