Paul Allen may not be as popular as Bill Gates, but he’s still the co-founder of Microsoft and a bonafide Silicon Valley billionaire. Like most Silicon Valley billionaires, he has his own outrageous pet project, which Allen has finally revealed for the first time. It’s the Largest Airplane in the world.
Allen first shared his vision for Stratolaunch back in 2011. The world’s largest airplane was supposed to enter test flight stage last year but that didn’t happen.
Aerospace engineer Burt Rutan and his team have been hard at work putting the behemoth together. Even though no test flights have been performed as yet, high-resolution images of the plan outside the hangar have been released for the very first time.
It’s a massive plan with a wingspan of 285 feet. It gets power from six 747 jet engines, is placed on 26 wheels and can carry 250,000 pounds of fuel. It needs 12,000 feet of runway just to take off.
Allen hasn’t built the world’s largest airplane just for show. It’s intended use is for flights into low Earth orbit for launching rockets into space. These rockets will be carrying small satellites that weigh up to 1,000 pounds into orbit.
Stratolaunch has to hit an altitude of 35,000 feet before the rocket, which will be attached to its belly, can take it from there. That’s not all. Allen hopes to eventually be able to use the aircraft for dispatching crewed missions into space at a cost lower than what NASA pays to the Russians.
The Stratolaunch aircraft came out of the hangar – for the first time ever – to conduct aircraft fueling tests: https://t.co/dyLto0HSGM pic.twitter.com/ve3YdUyOQg
— Stratolaunch (@Stratolaunch) May 31, 2017