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Stratolaunch Stratolaunch
 
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Allen first announced the Stratolaunch in 2011. Being the largest aeroplane in the world, it’s intended to fly into low Earth orbit and launch an Orbital ATK's Pegasus XL rocket into space. The rocket is designed to carry small satellites that weigh up to 454kg into orbit. Once the Stratolaunch hits an altitude of 10,668m, the rocket that's tethered to its belly will finish out the journey. If Allen's full ambitions are realised, the company will be able to send crewed missions into space at a lower price than Russia is charging NASA.
 
Stratolaunch is designed to carry up to three Pegasus XL air launch vehicles, each capable of hauling a 1,000-pound satellite into low Earth orbit. The company says it’s looking into medium and large, solid and liquid fueled launch vehicles, which would boost the size of satellites they could carry.
 
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Test flights were supposed to begin in 2016, but that deadline came and went. Aerospace engineer Burt Rutan and his team were at work on the massive aeroplane all this time. The Stratolaunch aircraft is the work of Mojave, California-based Scaled Composites.
 
This is a first-of-its-kind aircraft, so the aircraft was to start testing at the Mojave Air and Space Port with plans for a launch demonstration in 2019. The plane is the largest in the world based on wingspan, measuring 385 feet.
 
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Initially, flights will be under an experimental certification from the FAA.
 
The Stratolaunch has a wingspan of 117m, it uses six 747 jet engines, sits on 28 wheels, can carry 113,400kg of fuel, and weighs 226,800kg without fuel. In order to take off, it needs about 3660m of runway.
 
The Stratolaunch aircraft features two cockpits and is capable of carrying payloads up to 550,000 pounds.
 
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