Space launch company Stratolaunch Systems rolls its twin-fuselage plane out of its hangar for the first time to conduct fueling tests. Jane Ross reports.
Space launch company Stratolaunch Systems has rolled its twin-fuselage plane out of its hangar for the first time to conduct fueling tests. The company is a unit of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's privately owned Vulcan Aerospace. The aircraft will be the world's largest, with a wingspan of 385 feet, or 117 meters. It will serve as an airborne launch pad for putting satellites into orbit. The plan is for it to take off from a runway and fly to 35,000 feet, the approximate cruising altitude of a commercial airliner. It will then release a rocket carrying the satellite. The company says it will have the ability to be positioned so satellites can be directly delivered into very precise orbits quickly, without launch range scheduling issues and weather-related delays. Stratolaunch hopes to perform its first launch demonstration as early as 2019.