Wonderful Engineering

World’s Largest Airplane Might Be Grounded Just After Its First Flight

Remember Stratolaunch’s plane? Yes, the world’s largest plane that had recently completed its first flight? The same plane that came from a company that was founded by the late Paul Allen – a billionaire and co-founder of Microsoft. Well, Stratolaunch is shutting down its operations as per sources. 

The news comes as a surprise since the company recently successfully tested the Stratolaunch aircraft and was ready to challenge the conventional aerospace companies. As per sources, the rumors of the company getting shut down have been floating ever since the passing of Paul Allen. Many believed these rumors to be true when the company canceled its plans of coming up with rockets for its flagship plane.

The Stratolaunch aircraft was an amazing feat in itself. It took flight during April this year. It was able to get the title of the world’s largest plane thanks to its wingspan of 384 feet. During the test flight, the plane was able to achieve speeds of 189 mph while reaching heights of 17,000 feet. The flight had lasted for a total of 150 minutes. It took eight years to build the plane, but it has not been tested ever since.

According to Reuters, ‘Stratolaunch planned medium-lift rocket would fly as early as 2022 and said it was in the early stages of developing a variant with larger payload capacity. It also said it was designing a reusable space plane to carry cargo to and from Earth and a follow-on variant that could carry people.’

As of right now, Vulcan Inc., a unit of Paul Allen’s privately held company, is looking into the possibility of selling assets and intellectual property of Stratolaunch. It is sad to see Stratolaunch end up this way. That is because the plane could have been used for contributing to the vision of Stratolaunch that included bringing the cost of space flight down while facilitating the launch of rockets into the lower orbit.