Stratolaunch aircraft edges closer to first flight

Stratolaunch aircraft edges closer to first flight

The twin-hull aircraft, which measures 117 metres (385 ft) from wing-tip to wing-tip (and a Boeing 747 is a mere 68m wide) is created to mainly carry satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO).

The latest tests build upon an earlier series of taxi tests of the plane, performed at lower speeds, in December.

"'Captured new video of @Stratolaunch plane as it reached a top taxi speed of 40 knots (46 mph) with all flight surfaces in place on Sunday", Allen wrote in a statement.

The six-engine plane is larger than Howard Hughes" 1947 H-4 Hercules, known as the "Spruce Goose, ' and the Antonov An-225, a Soviet-era cargo plane originally built to transport the Buran space shuttle that is now the world's largest aircraft.

The Stratolaunch is created to carry satellites and other spaceships into orbit.

The company is reported to be taking every step before the actual launch of the aircraft slowly checking and making sure that all systems aboard the monster machine is working according to plan.

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The giant aircraft is being developed by Paul Allen's Stratolaunch Systems Corporation - a space transportation venture developing a new air launch to orbit system, with its corporate headquarters located in Seattle, Washington.

In 2011, the project's cost was initially estimated to be at £215 million ($300 million), though there is no word as to the updated figures. All of these incremental milestones are said to be leading up to the Stratolaunch's first test flight in 2019.

Scaled is owned by defense contractor Northrop Grumman.

SpaceX rival Orbital ATK has since partnered with Stratolaunch Systems to build the specialized air-launch rockets. Bezos is developing low-priced, reusable rockets with the goal of moving energy-intensive, heavy industry off Earth.

It has been created by billionaire Paul Allen, of of the co-founders of Microsoft and the 46th richest man on the planet. At the end of the decade, the company wants to start regular business activities. Small satellites can be deployed this way into different orbits on the same flight. Here, the Stratolaunch plane could achieve valuable services.

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