07 Junio 2017 11:58
The mammoth aircraft is bigger than a football pitch
Stratolaunch Systems Corps
Microsoft’s co-founder, Paul Allen, has unveiled the biggest aeroplane in the world, leaving everyone feeling a little dazed. More than a plane, this aircraft looks like some kind of mythical beast.
Don’t fret dear readers: this is not the whim of a bored multimillionaire with more money than sense.
After being pieced together in the California desert, what many say will spark a new revolution has this week been rolled out into the light. And with special construction permits needed, things certainly haven't been done by halves.
Its record size has earned the attention its drawing. It measures 117 metres across - a mere football pitch -, weighs 227 tonnes without fuel and stands 15 metres high. It’s so big that it needs 28 wheels and six jet engines to get started and 3.6 kilometres of runway for takeoff.
This absurdly large flying machine has not been built for wild parties in the sky or any other kind of eccentric nonsense. Its gargantuan size owes to the fact that it has been designed not to transport passengers, but rockets.
The plane, called Stratolaunch, has been designed to fly in low Earth orbit and launch the satellite-filled Pegasus XL rocket. This new ‘air launch’ from low Earth orbit instead of the ground will massively reduce the cost of putting satellites into space, allowing for new forms of transmitting Internet throughout the world, improving communications and paving the way to new technologies.
‘Twenty years ago, the advent of the Web and the subsequent proliferation of smartphones combined to enable billions of people to surmount the traditional limitations of geography and commerce. Today, expanding access to LEO (Low Earth Orbit) holds similar revolutionary potential,’ writes Allen.
Stratolaunch will be tested in the coming weeks and months, with its first official flight scheduled for 2019. Once this baby takes to the skies, the aeronautical industry will never be the same again.