What happened? Stratolaunch is a giant aircraft designed to carry rockets in the stratosphere, and yesterday it completed its first flight. In 150 minutes, the 385 ft wide plane achieved a maximum speed of 189 km / h and a height of 16,000 ft without a hitch, which is smoothly and exactly as expected.
Stratolaunch is 385 ft wide, 238 ft long and 50 ft tall. It weighs 500,000 pounds (250 tons) empty, but full of fuel and with a rocket payload, it can weigh as much as 1,300,000 pounds (650 tons). To push all that weight, it uses two fuselages each with three Boeing 747 engines attached that can take it up to 35,000 ft and 2000 miles (3.704km).
"It was an emotional moment for me personally to see this majestic bird take flight," said Stratolaunch's CEO Jean Floyd during a press call. "All of you have been very patient and very tolerant over the years waiting for us to get this great bird from the ground, and we did that finally. aircraft are reusable (unlike many rockets), can take off from most major airports and their flights are less dependent on weather 1
Stratolaunch has previously collaborated with SpaceX, but the latter closed the partnership to focus on launch of their reusable rockets Stratolaunch has now entered into an agreement with Northrop Grumman to launch its Pegasus rockets, the first pr I developed the rocket and the first to use an aircraft to launch it. But at 29, Pegasus begins to show his age.
While the plane was a proud moment for Stratolaunch, it was bitterly sweet for the many engineers who knew Microsoft and Stratolaunch founder Paul Allen could have celebrated the success. Allen passed away in October last year from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. "Although he wasn't there today when the plane lifted gracefully from the runway, I knew a" thank you "to Paul for letting me be a part of this remarkable achievement, Floyd said.
goals, there is still a long way to go. When asked, Stratolaunch employees could not disconnect a schedule for future flights and could not guess when the first commercial operation could take place.