Stratolaunch Systems Opens Massive Hangar

** The Stratolaunch will be powered by the same
engine as this Boeing 747 parked outside the
new hangar.
(Photo courtesy of Stratolaunch Systems)**

Stratolaunch Systems this week opened the doors to a 103,000-square-foot hangar at the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California, where the company's double-fuselage carrier aircraft will be built. Adjacent to the massive hangar is an 88,000-square-foot fabrication facility, which was completed in October. Stratolaunch's partner Scaled Composites, also based at the Mojave airport, is developing the carrier, which would be** the largest aircraft ever built**.

In its current design, the launch airplane will feature six engines, have a wingspan of more than 380 feet and weigh more than 1.3 million pounds. It will take off like a conventional airplane, although it will require at least a 12,000-foot-long runway. The final design is still being developed, but new images on Stratolaunch’s website show significantly modified fuselage shapes, which are much sleeker and narrower compared with the original design.

“Stratolaunch has made significant progress over the past year and a half, and the new hangar allows us to keep that momentum going so that we can hit our first test flight in 2016,” said Gary Wentz, CEO and president of Stratolaunch Systems.

Stratolaunch was formed by Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen after the successful launch of SpaceShipOne, which was also a collaboration between Allen and Burt Rutan, the founder of Scaled Composites.

Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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