Stratolaunch: into space from the largest aircraft

Stratolaunch: у космос – із найбільшого літака

World’s largest plane is being created to make space flights more affordable. This relates to Stratolaunch, from where space rockets will be launched.

In a year, rockets with satellites aboard will be launched from the stratosphere from Stratolaunch, world’s largest aircraft. At the very least, this is promised by creator of this unique aircraft, Stratolaunch Systems Corp., founded by Paul Allen — co-founder of the software giant, Microsoft.

Stratolaunch: into space on the largest aircraft Stratolaunch: в космос – с самого большого самолета Stratolaunch: у космос – із найбільшого літака

Photo: Stratolaunch Systems Corp.

During testing that was done in Mojave Desert, the giant aircraft with a wingspan of 117 meters (wingspan of Antonov AN-225 Mriya is 88 meters) drove on the runway at a speed of 74 kph. Huge machine, which can take off useful load up to 230 tons, is distinguished by a unique design: it has two fuselages connected by one wing. Six Pratt & Whitney PW4056 engines (used in Boeing 747-400 and Airbus 300, for instance) will be able to lift an aircraft carrying a rocket launcher to an altitude of 11,000 meters. In spite of this, however, rocket launcher will be placed between the fuselages. It is expected that, satellites will be smoothly launched into Earth’s orbit. What is more, the cost of these launch operations will be low.

We recall that Stratolaunch for the first left the hangar in May 2017 – that is when the test of its engines was performed. Later, in December 2017, it drove on the runway having reached the speed of 64 kph. Engineers have tested its steering and braking system. And now, on February 26, 2018, giant-aircraft has successfully passed yet another test.

Stratolaunch: into space on the largest aircraft Stratolaunch: в космос – с самого большого самолета Stratolaunch: у космос – із найбільшого літака

Photo: Stratolaunch Systems Corp.

It is interesting that this is the second, distinct from SpaceX company, approach aimed at space flights cost reduction. Unlike the SpaceX that uses reusable rockets to save money on their creation, Stratolaunch Systems is based on the possibility to cut costs of launch (and to increasing its probability) of single-use rocket. Perhaps if to combine these two approaches, we will reach significant cost reduction of goods delivery into orbit and will send spacecrafts into outer space. At this stage, if the idea of Stratolaunch project is implemented, space flights will be “more convenient, reliable and regular”, – this was told by the representatives of Stratolaunch Systems Corp. about its development.



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