Gigantic space plane the Stratolaunch nears first flight

The world’s biggest aeroplane, the Stratolaunch, successfully reached 90 mph (145 km/h) during its latest stage of runway testing.

 

But sadly, the announcement of this milestone comes just days after billionaire and co-founder of Microsoft Paul Allen passed away, and just months before his long-dreamed of creation – the Stratolaunch - will finally zoom towards the skies.

Allen’s concept plane, bigger than Howard Hughes’s famed Spruce Goose, is scheduled to take flight soon in the Mojave Desert in the US.

The Stratolaunch has a wingspan longer than a football field, and boasts two cockpits, a take-off weight of 1.3 million pounds, six engines and 28 wheels, and is intended eventually to be used to transport rockets carrying satellites and rocket ships.

"You don't build [that plane] unless you're very serious, not only about wanting to see the plane fly but to see it fulfill its purpose. Which is getting vehicles in orbit," Allen told Wired magazine earlier this year, Fox News reported.

Often better known for his other pursuits, chief among them bringing personal computing software into people's homes, Allen was also an aerospace enthusiast and activist. Stratolaunch was to be his crowning achievement, a massive plane of almost incomprehensible size, capable of carrying as many as three rockets tethered to its belly, which, once aloft, would drop like skydivers, one by one, before launching to orbit from the air, a report in the AFR revealed.

Click here for more on the story and to see more pictures of the mega-plane.

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