World’s biggest plane, double-bodied Stratolaunch airplane with wingspan of 385feet has reached a milestone bringing it a step closer to takeoff. Paul Allen, founder of Stratolaunch Systems Corp. and co-founder of Microsoft tweeted that the runway test held at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California by the aircraft reached a taxi speed of 46 mph (74 km/h).
The aircraft will be used to transport rocket launchers and satellites bound for low Earth orbit as it can carry a payload of up to 550,000 lbs. (250,000 kg) and have weight of 500,000 lbs. (227,000 kilograms) itself.
The main purpose of the aircraft will be to deploy rockets and satellites from moving airplane so as to reduce the delay of launching rockets which can be caused by inclement weather and hazards of airborne traffic. Stratolaunch will be able to takeoff from runway and release the payloads from a cruising altitude of about 36,000 feet (11,000 meters) making access to space more convenient, reliable and routine.
Stratolaunch looks like two planes joined by a central wing utilizing six Boeing 747 engines and has two fuselages. The plane has 2 aircraft bodies and the right one will occupy flight crew whereas left one houses flight data systems. According to Stratolaunch website, the center wing that joins the fuselages helps to stabilize the aircraft and serves as the attachment point for rocket payloads.
The first test of the aircraft was done in May 2017 where the engines were tested. The plane first rolled on runway in December last year and received the speed of 64 km/h as technicians put the plane through its paces for steering and braking. The latest test shoes the planes runway performance and the plane is now expected to fully operate by end of 2020.