About five months ago, we introduced you to the Stratolaunch, one of the most unusual aircraft we’ve seen in our 75 years of publishing. Built to carry another smaller vehicle designed to launch satellites into low-Earth orbit from high altitudes, the Stratolaunch was made by Stratolaunch Systems Corp., an aerospace firm created by Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen and SpaceShipOne co-creator Burt Rutan. The bird is so large an ungainly, it seems like it could never get off the ground – but the same could be said of the albatross before it unfurls it’s immense wings.
The giant cargo aircraft – with a record-breaking wingspan of 117 meters – has, indeed, not yet flown, but it recently completed successful test of its six massive Pratt & Whitney PW4056 engines recovered from 747-400s. Eventually, the bird will be used to carry privately-owned and -operated spacecraft, such as the Pegasus XL or other similar space-planes, into orbit. Taxi tests are schedules for sometime in 2018.
For now, though, aviation enthusiasts can only sit back in awe and wonder. Check out the images of the engine tests and a video on the website of our sister publication, Cargo Facts:
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