Stratolaunch Systems just two years ago presented the largest aircraft project in the world. Now we finally had a chance to see how the giant emerged.
The design, powered by up to six Boeing 747 engines, is meant to be used to carry rockets to deliver goods to orbit around the globe. The aircraft will be a two-hull model, and both elements will be joined by the longest wings ever in history.
The new project by Paul Allen and Burt Rutan is really impressive. The Stratolaunch Systems airplane will boast a wingspan of up to 117 meters, which means that the Hughes H-4 Spruce Goose (97.5 m) will eventually be beaten. The design is also interesting compared to Antonov An-225 Mrija (88.4 m) and the largest passenger aircraft Airbus A380-800 (79.8 m).
An aircraft with a rocket weight of 250,000 kg will weigh as much as 540 tonnes. Maximum reach is 1,000 nautical miles. The rocket itself, which will transport the aircraft, can deliver a payload of over 6100 kg in orbit. Test flights are scheduled to take place in the next two years, and the launch of standard operations is scheduled for 2018. The aircraft has a crew of three.