Paul Allen Unveils Giant Plane That Can Lift Half a Million Pounds

first_imgStay on target 17 years ago, Paul Allen resigned from the board of directors at Microsoft. He’s kept himself busy since then. One of the things he’s been working on was this freaking gigantic airplane.Allen has been involved in the aerospace business for more than a decade now. His first venture involved pumping $25 million into Scaled Composites’ SpaceShipOne. In 2011, Allen founded Stratolaunch Systems. They’ve been working for years on a game-changing suborbital launch vehicle, and this is it: the Stratolaunch aircraft. Apparently after designing and building a plane this size they were way too tired to come up with a catchy name in time for the announcement.So just how big is this thing? From wingtip to wingtip it measures an incredible 385 feet. You could just about line up 11 Cessna 172s across the span. The Stratolaunch aircraft weighs in at 500,000 pounds and can handle a maximum takeoff weight of 1.3 million pounds. That’s enough to safely pack on another 550,000 pounds of payload according to the company.The aircraft will make suborbital runs and launch Pegasus rockets. The XL version only weighs about 51,000 pounds, which is why Stratolaunch built the craft to handle multiple launches in a single flight. It’s capable of taking up three of the air-launched rockets at a time.For their initial test run, they’ll keep relatively things low-key and launch a single Pegasus XL. Stratolaunch still has a number of tests to complete before they make that leap, however, like making sure it can taxi safely. They’re shooting for a date sometime in 2019 for the first launch demonstration. Watch: Rogue Flamingo Holds Up EasyJet Plane on Airport RunwayDARPA Project Gives A Robotic Arm Its Pilot’s License last_img read more