The World's Largest Plane
The private spaceflight company Stratolaunch is building the world's largest aircraft for future rocket launches from the sky. See photos from the first taxi tests of the Stratolaunch carrier aircraft the Roc here.
A Giant of the Sky
Stratolaunch is backed by billionaire Paul Allen and was built at the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California. The plane made its first taxi test on Dec. 18, 2017.
A Slow Start
During the first taxi test on Dec. 18, 2017, Stratolaunch put the carrier plan through a its paces slowly.
Slow and Steady
"Our crew was able to demonstrate ground directional control with nose gear steering, and our brake systems were exercised successfully on the runway,"George Bugg, Stratolaunch's aircraft program manager, said in a statement. "Our first low speed taxi test is a very important step toward first flight. We are all proud and excited."
Ready to Roll
Stratolaunch's rocket-carrying mothership, reportedly nicknamed Roc, is a beast. It has a wingspan of 386 feet (118 meters) and weighs 500,000 lbs. (227,000 kilograms).
The twin-boom arrangement of Stratlaunch's carrier plane will allow the aircraft to carry up to three rockets at a time. It can carry a payload of up to 550,000 lbs. (almost 250,000 kg) to launch altitude.
Launchpad in the Sky
The Stratolaunch carrier plane is designed to launch rockets into orbit from an altitude of 30,000 feet (9,100 meters).
It takes six Pratt & Whitney PW4056 jet engines to power the monster jet. Those engines were successfully tested on Sept. 19, 2017.
View from Above
Another look at the Stratolaunch carrier from above during its May 31, 2017 debut.
A view from the twin tails of the massive Stratolaunch Systems carrier plane for aerial rocket launches. The plane's tails stand about 50 feet (15 meters) above the ground.
Stratolaunch Taxi Tests: Take 2
On Feb. 26, 2018, Stratolaunch rolled its massive carrier plane out to the runway at the Mojave Air and Spaceport in California for taxi speed tests. Unlike the first trials in Decemeber 2017, the Feb. 26 pushed the carrier plane to its fastest speeds yet to test takeoff approaches. Read the full story.