Our team at Dretloh were following along back in early 2018 and shared this post with our readers regarding the build of the Stratolaunch aircraft.
How Big is it, Really?
The best way to explain the massive aircraft’s size to anyone in or outside the aviation industry is: if you park it next to a Boeing 747-400, the 747 would look like a toy airplane in comparison [see photo below for sizing]. In perspective, the massive flying machine has a wingspan longer than an entire football field plus the end zones and more. The catamaran-style aircraft with twin- or dual-fuselage was built to fly a half-million-pound rocket ship to normal cruising altitude and then drop it, whereby the rocket would ignite its engines and take off into outer space.
The Stratolaunch, History, and Future
In 2004, the aerospace engineer and designer Burt Rutan, made international headlines with SpaceShipOne. The aircraft was the world’s first privately-built, non-governmental manned spacecraft to make a successful sub-orbital spaceflight. The aircraft was fully-funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and the $10 million Ansari X-Prize.
“Manned space flight is not only for governments to do,” says Rutan. “We proved it can be done by a small company operating with limited resources and a few dozen dedicated employees. The next 25 years will be a wild ride; one that history will note was done for everyone’s benefit.” (1)
The dream behind the extraordinary aircraft would be to enable easy ground and space transfers, making access to space no more exotic or unobtainable than a Miami-to-Orlando commuter flight. Space travel for all!
The Stratolaunch Design & Specs
Stratolaunch Systems: “The innovative dual fuselage and high-wing design allow launch vehicles to release from the aircraft centerline and below the wing for a much safer deployment.” (2) The Stratolaunch uses the equivalent of two Boeing 747-400s to carry a Falcon 9-derivative rocket up to altitude 30,000-35,000 feet for launch into low Earth orbit. Everything about the Stratolaunch is massive.
It is equipped with six Pratt & Whitney turbofan engines, salvaged from three 747s and has a maximum takeoff weight of 1.3 million pounds. The aircraft requires 80 miles of wiring and a whopping 385-foot wingspan.
What do you think? Would you take this massive flying machine into space?