The World’s Biggest Plane Finally Took Off
Stratolaunch / YouTube
It’s been a very long time in the making, but Scaled Composites’ Stratolaunch took flight for the first time on April 13th, 2019. The project was founded by Microsoft’s Paul Allen back in 2010 and after 8 years has finally reached this milestone.
— Stratolaunch (@Stratolaunch) April 15, 2019
The crew took off from the Mojave Air and Space Port and flew for nearly 2.5 hours reaching a height of 15,000 ft. The pilots reported the aircraft flew as well as they’ve hoped.
The Stratolaunch was designed to make launching satellites into orbit much easier and more cost-effective. SpaceX has already been making such expeditions cheaper, and now with Scaled Composites following suit, it seems like there’ll be some friendly competition. Although it may be a little while before we see it in action, this latest test proves things are moving forward.
In order to carry big and heavy objects into space, the aircraft itself had to be big, but light. With a wingspan reaching 385 feet, the Stratolaunch exceeds the Spruce Goose’s previous record by 65 feet. To get it to take off, however, it needed 6 engines which happened to be cannibalized from a scrapyard. The team which designed this aircraft managed to get Pratt & Whitney PW400 engines from a Boeing 747-400 and while they were at it also took landing gear and avionics as well just to prove the concept.
As you’ll see in the video below, all that hard work paid off.