Stratolaunch, the world's largest aircraft, reached a new milestone recently, rolling down the track at 46 mph. While it may not sound like much, it's worth watching the video to see this 500,000 pound beast with twin fuselages and a 385 foot span crawling through the concrete. The chase cars look like Micro Machines next to this thing.
It's a big improvement over a low-speed test conducted last December, in which the Stratolaunch traveled a runway at just 28 mph. Previously, the huge plane successfully conducted a test of its six turboprop engines at Mojave Port Air and Space in California. It is said that all these incremental milestones lead to the first test flight of Stratolaunch in 2019.
The chase cars look like Micro Machines next to this thing
Stratolaunch is a private space company led by the co-founder of Microscoft, Paul Allen. The goal is to use the plane as a platform to raise rockets into the stratosphere before launching them into space. Some see it as a cheaper and more reliable route to low Earth orbit, the ideal point for many types of satellites. Thanks to its massive size, the plane is capable of transporting loads of up to 550,000 pounds.
He captured a new video of the plane @Stratolaunch when it reached a maximum speed of 40 knots (46 mph) with all flight surfaces placed on Sunday. The team verified the control responses, based on the first taxi tests conducted in December. pic.twitter.com/OcH1ZkxZRA- Paul Allen (@PaulGAllen) February 26, 2018
Rockets launched into the air are not new. The Pegasus XL rocket from Orbital ATK is capable of launching itself from the air. And while the Pegasus is a fairly small rocket, capable of launching satellites weighing up to 1,000 pounds, the rocket manufacturer signed an agreement with Stratolaunch last year. NASA and Richard Branson & # 39; s Virgin Group have similar projects under development, as does the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
The key test will be the first flight next year. This will determine whether Stratolaunch has a commercial future, or whether it will end up in a museum next to Spruce Goose, Howard Hughes' giant flying boat that once launched into the sky.