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STRATOLAUNCH is the name and it's the largest ever based on wingspan! Released to public glare from its hangar in the Mohave region of California, the massive aircraft is designed to convey rockets to some distance and release them to carry satellites into space. Prior to this record, the Russian-made Antonov An-225 Mriya was the largest aircraft, longer than the Stratolaunch and still in use today for conveying heavy equipment on demand.
The Stratolaunch features a 385-foot wingspan, six engines used by the Boeing 747, stands 50 feet tall and can carry more than 500,000 pounds of payload.
Jean Floyd, Stratolaunch's chief executive officer, said the goal is to have a launch demonstration as early as 2019.
"Over the coming weeks and months, we'll be actively conducting ground and flight line testing at the Mojave Air and Space Port," Floyd said in a statement. "This is a first-of-its-kind aircraft, so we're going to be! throughout testing and continue to prioritize the safety of our pilots, crew and staff."
The Stratolaunch will also take-off from a runway and fly like a conventional plane after which it would launch the space vehicle which it is carrying at a designated feet above ground. Further, Stratolaunch will fly back to a runway for landing, refueling and reuse according to a company staff.
A similar initiative was proposed by Virgin Galactic, sister company to Virgin Atlantic which aims to take people around space for sightseeing by 2020 using a space plane which would be launched mid-air by two massive aircrafts in one just like the Stratolaunch.
Stratolaunch is a project of Stratolaunch Systems - a subsidiary of Vulcan Aerospace founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen.