Stratolaunch - the world's largest aircraft has just completed the first flight in the Mojave desert
Talking about the world's largest aircraft still in operation, apart from Antonov An-225 Mriya, there is another giant name, Stratolaunch of Stratolaunch Systems Corp - the space transport company of Microsoft co-founder - Paul Allen. Today, this unique twin-body aircraft successfully made its first flight in the skies of the Mojave desert, California after years of delay.
Stratolaunch is basically an air launch system and it was developed to send rockets to a height of about 35,000 ft (10668 m) and when released, the rocket could trigger propulsion. and burning floors to send satellites or cargo into space. Speaking of this, it is possible to imagine the role of Stratolaunch, it also has the transport function like An-225 but serves the space mission as the main. The flight was done without a rocket, but Northrop Grumman, a major US military contractor, intended to use Stratolaunch to bring Pegasus XL boosters into space.
Stratolaunch Systems CEO Jean Floyd said: "This is an emotional moment for me personally to see this amazing wing take off." It flew for more than 2 and a half hours, reaching an altitude of 17,000 ft (5181 m) and cruised at 304 km / h.
Pilot flight Evan Thomas, who made Stratolaunch's first flight, said: "The flight was very smooth, exactly what you expected with a first flight. The plane flew just like what it was. I did in the simulation chamber and it was as expected. "
The flight took place only three months after Stratolaunch Systems was forced to cut more than 50 employees and cancel its own rocket development plans. Initially, the company intended to build a range of boosters, including a space plane. However, these plans changed after Paul Allen died on October 15 last year at the age of 65.
Floyd shared today that the press kept mentioning Allen and he said: "No doubt he will be very proud to see his plane take off. Although Allen is not at Here, I had to say, "Thank you." Paul Allen was the founder of Stratolaunch Systems Corp in December 2011 with Burt Rutan, who had previously been involved in the development of the SpaceShipOne.
Speaking of Stratolaunch, the original project had quite a lot of participants, not only Scale Composites - Burt Rutan's company but also Dynetics - a multidisciplinary technology company with the aviation, defense, vehicle, and IT was founded in 1974 and is run by David A. King - 10th generation director of NASA's Marshall Space Center; and Elon Musk's SpaceX but soon disbanded in 2012 due to a different view. By 2013 Stratolaunch was nearing completion and the company planned a test flight for the first time in 2015 but then stepped back in 2018 and now 2019 will officially take off. The aircraft successfully completed many previous tests such as fuel testing, ground testing, rolling off the runway in 2017.
Stratolaunch has a two-body design, similar to the Virgin Galactic's White Knight Two transport plane but is much larger. Its wingspan is 117 meters long while the An-225 has a wingspan of only 88.4 meters. Weight over 540 tons and need a runway at least 3700 m to take off. With a huge size and a capacity of up to 230 tons of transport, Stratolaunch needs 6 engines. They are Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines - high displacement turbofan engines with thrust up to 66500 lbf (296 kN) each. This is also the engine that is fitted on commercial jets like the Boeing 747-400. Stratolaunch's operating range is about 2200 km when conducting aerial rocket launch.
While SpaceX is still providing services to transport goods and satellites to space with those rockets that reuse Falcon, Stratolaunch has a greater advantage that it can also perform the same function (of course. However, it is necessary to take off from the normal runway, so the turnaround and reuse time is shorter between each launch.
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