The aircraft – which is the vision of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen – has a wingspan longer than a football field and comes equipped with two cockpits, 28 wheels and six engines normally used to power 747 jumbo jets.
Stratolaunch is an aircraft with a wingspan of a football field that could one day help to fire satellites and other objects into space. Its first test flights are planned for later this year. The vehicle sports twin fuselages each with its own ‘cockpit’, forming a bizarre ‘H’ shape under its wings, which stretch 385 feet (117m) tip to tip.
The three-person crew – pilot, co-pilot and flight engineer – will sit in the right-hand fuselage, steering the plane a fair distance to the right of the centerline.
The left-hand fuselage has what looks like a cockpit with windows to onlookers, but the section is in fact empty and unpressurised. The Stratolaunch weighs approximately 500,000 pounds without any cargo.
It is designed to carry a maximum takeoff weight of 1.3 million pounds, according to The Verge. The plane rolls around with the aid of 28 wheels. Once airborne, it is powered by six 747 aircraft engines. The size of the plane will enable it to serve as an airborne rocket launcher.
Eventually will be used to transport rockets carrying satellites and even a newly revealed manned space plane into the Earth’s upper atmosphere, where they will blast off into space. It will be big enough to transport multiple satellites or other payloads, and is codenamed Kraken, with the first launch currently planned for 2022.