One of the most impressive projects presented in recent years reached another milestone. Stratolaunch, giant carrier plane designed for lifting rockets launched during flight was rolled out from hangar at Mojave Air & Space Port for the first time on 31st May.
Plane with wingspan at 117 m was rolled out in the last day of May to perform fueling test. Stratolaunch company could celebrate reaching another milestone – they managed to show almost finished plane in 2017 and start testing procedure, just as it was previously announced. Largest plane in the history will pass number of ground tests to check every subsystem of the vehicle and as it is planned, will perform its first flight in 2019. Stratolaunch remains one of the most impressive projects and still remains in a game. With Virgin Galactic is one from two main players on the market of large carrier planes able to lift rocket or space plane. Company already already signed contract (Orbital ATK already decided to launch from Stratolaunch their Pegasus XL rocket), and date of the first flight (2019) seems to be quite reasonably set and a deadline, which could be met.
Stratolaunch probably will remain largest carrier planes for space launch services for a long time. To remind, construction of the Stratolaunch is based on two fuselages with single wing and six PW 4056 engines adopted, three on the each side. As most of the subsystems, engines were taken from two Boeing 747-400 purchased for parts by Stratolaunch. Under the central part of the wing is place for attaching rocket or space plane which will be deployed on specified altitude. Construction of the plane should make possible lifting payload of 230 t. Plane was designed and manufactured by Scaled Composites, founded by Burt Rutan and currently owned by Northrop Grumman.