Inside the world's largest plane, which has a wingspan longer than a football field and a mysterious new owner

StratolaunchThe Stratolaunch completed its first flight on April 13.

The world’s largest plane is so big that it needs two fuselages with separate cockpits.

It’s called the Stratolaunch, and it’s designed to launch rockets into space in what is known as low-Earth orbit, which means the spacecraft is between 99 and 1,200 miles above the Earth’s surface. (Most space flights, as well as satellites and the International Space Station, are in low-Earth orbit.) Paul Allen – the late founder of the company that makes the Stratolaunch, also called Stratolaunch – hoped to launch a rocket the size of a NASA space shuttle one day, according to the Washington Post.

Stratolaunch said on October 11 that it had a new owner, though it did disclose the owner’s name. The company had previously been owned by Vulcan Inc, a holding company started by Allen.

Here’s a look at the Stratolaunch, and why businesses might want to use it.


Stratolaunch was founded by the late Paul Allen, who cofounded Microsoft.


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Allen’s goal for the company and its namesake aircraft was to “provide convenient, reliable, and routine access to low-Earth orbit.”


It will do so by launching rockets toward space from mid-air, which the company hopes will be less expensive than current commercial space-launch options.


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That would be particularly useful for companies who want to send satellites into space. Allen wanted to eventually launch a rocket the size of a NASA space shuttle from the plane.


Its 385-foot wingspan makes it wider than a football field, and the larges aeroplane by wingspan.


The aircraft is 238 feet long, 50 feet tall, and has six high-bypass-ratio turbofan engines.


It weighs 500,000 pounds and needs 28 wheels between its two fuselages.


The aircraft made its first flight on April 13.

Stratolaunch

It flew for over two hours.

Stratolaunch

It reached a top speed of 189 mph.

Stratolaunch

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