Stratolaunch Nears First Flight

Test crew conducts high speed taxi of massive space launch aircraft.

The world’s largest airplane, Stratolaunch, is inching closer to its first flight. During a highspeed taxi test yesterday, the team brought the aircraft to 118 knots, lifting the nose off the ground before aborting the takeoff. In a video shared on Facebook (above) the massive airplane looked stable, though the slowdown and stop phase on the 12,503-foot runway at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California was not shown. The first taxi test for the Stratolaunch was conducted a little more than one year ago.

The Stratolaunch is designed to can carry a payload of up to 500,000 pounds and has a maximum takeoff weight of 1.3 million pounds. The massive aircraft will bring a spacecraft to 35,000 feet where it will separate from the launch vehicle and continue to space.

Stratolaunch was designed by Mojave-based Scaled Composites with two fuselages connected by a 385-foot wing. The airplane requires two pilots and a flight engineer to fly.