Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder aims to revolutionize the space launches with the world’s largest aircraft Stratolaunch. When it comes to size, Stratolaunch is unlike any aircraft you had seen till now. With its 117 m wingspan, the Stratolaunch is built using two Boeing 747s and utilizes their engines, avionics, deck and landing gear so as to reduce the cost in the developmental stages.
As stated earlier, the gigantic size of the Stratolaunch is for a reason. It will perform the heavy duty of air launching the satellites time and again. Also, it even exceeds the record of the Airbus A380 wingspan by 123 feet.
Scaled Composites is one of the Stratolaunch System’s founder and is deployed to make the complete hardware of the world’s largest aircraft.
The Stratolaunch is used as a carrier and it takes the satellite high up into the atmosphere. As the rocket has already gained some initial velocity to that point (note that none of the rocket fuel has been spent yet), the Stratolaunch releases the satellite at a considerable height where it is then directed into the orbit.
This air launch significantly reduces the fuel consumption, thus making the satellite launch less expensive. The same carrier can be used multiple times. But, there’s a catch. The Stratolaunch is limited by the payload and the control required during the entire flight till the launch should be precise. Also, the Stratolaunch requires a 12,000 feet runway which is longer than any of the current runway requirements of any heavy performance commercial jets.
The company has had many partners including Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Sierra Nevada Co. The Stratolaunch is expected to begin the test flights in 2016, but of course, it could be delayed keeping in mind the enormity of the project and other technical issues.
If successful, then the world’s largest aircraft Stratolaunch is definitely going to revolutionize the satellite launches soon.
Check out the animated video demonstration of Stratolaunch’s design and working.
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