It’s wingspan is bigger than the length of an American football field by twenty-five feet. Empty, it weighs in at a half-million pounds, and it has a maximum take-off weight of 1.3 million pounds. It’s running six Pratt and Whitney PW4056 engines, like the kind you would find on a Boeing 747-400 widebody. The only thing that the Scaled Composites Stratolaunch kind of resembles is a North American F-82 Twin Mustang, and the scale between the post-World War II airframe and the Stratolaunch are beyond scope, nevermind the technological aspects and other advancements made since the F-82’s 1946 introduction. Put better: this is bigger than the Hughes H-4 “Spruce Goose” in wingspan and weight and even out-classes the Antonov AN-225 “Mriya” cargo aircraft.
What is the point of this creature, then? The Stratolaunch is designed to be a carrier aircraft that will launch rockets and spacecraft at altitude. With an external payload capability of 500,000 pounds, the Stratolaunch is designed to handle anything from the Pegasus series of vehicles up to a potential “space plane” like the Dream Chaster Cargo System or the likes of the Boeing X-37. In case you were wondering, the three-person crew are in the right-side cockpit…the left-side empennage is unpressurized and houses the flight data systems.
And it flies…this is footage from it’s first flight yesterday.