Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s company, Stratolaunch Systems, announced plans for test flights with the massive airplane in August 2015. Since then, nothing has been heard about it until recently when he tweeted a picture of the gigantic aircraft coming out of the equally gigantic hanger today. Allen stated that the giant bird is out for what he termed “fuel testing.”
Fitted with six Boeing 747 engines, the Stratolaunch is the largest all-composite plane ever built. For the record, it has a payload capacity of over 500,000 pounds and a functional range of around 2,000 nautical miles.
The conceptual idea for the aircraft is to attach rockets to its center and let them perform an airborne launch in order to minimize the amount of fuel they need and also to help rockets take off in unfriendly weather conditions.
The plane which is expected to be operational by 2020 is being made by Scaled Composites, a company owned by renowned aerospace engineer Burt Rutan and situated at the Mojave Air and Space Port in the California desert.
— Paul Allen (@PaulGAllen) May 31, 2017