Not really the news I post usually but I like the entire idea behind and the first thing when I saw was ‘looks like a P-38 Lightning with some extra balls on it’. Really nice. The story is in some sentence explained, Paul Allen wants to get into the space and his launch vehicle is getting closer and closer to getting off the ground, the simulator tests showed it is possible and so they started to build an aircraft.
His “Stratolaunch” aircraft is the biggest airplane in the world right now and uses six 747 engines to power itself for flight. Believe it or not this sucker is supposed to get off the ground carrying a rocket that will launch from high altitude and enter low earth orbit. If successful this could be another cheap way to get payloads into LEO.
The overall goal is to use the airplane as a platform for lifting rockets into the stratosphere before launching them into space, and the the plane is capable of carrying payloads up to 550,000 pounds (theoretically).
Antonov An-225 Mriya
This is or was the biggest one here both compared:
Wingspan: 290 ft
Empty Weight: 628,317 lb
Wingspan: 385 ft
Empty Weight: 500,000 lb
Which means by weight, the Antonov An-225 Mriya tips the scales but by actual wingspan the Stratolaunch is bigger – wingspan is even greater than the Spruce Goose (97.5 m).
Really impressive what you can archive with enough money and will but will this Design be capable to compete with space launch sytems like ULA, ESA and SpaceX? I have my doubts, this huge special aircraft looks complicated and expensive – but damn Paul I can’t wait to see this baby flying! 👍🏻
- Stratolaunch conducts high-speed taxi tests on giant carrier aircraft (nasaspaceflight.com)