Aircraft

Massive Stratolaunch aircraft hits 90 mph on road to maiden flight

The Stratolaunch aircraft has passed another key milestone on the road to getting into the air
The Stratolaunch aircraft has passed another key milestone on the road to getting into the air
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The latest tests saw the Stratolaunch reach speeds of up to 90 mph
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The latest tests saw the Stratolaunch reach speeds of up to 90 mph
These medium-speed runway tests are a key milestone in getting the Stratolaunch into the air
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These medium-speed runway tests are a key milestone in getting the Stratolaunch into the air
It's hoped the Stratolaunch will make its maiden flight within the next 12 to 18 months.
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It's hoped the Stratolaunch will make its maiden flight within the next 12 to 18 months.
The Stratolaunch aircraft has passed another key milestone on the road to getting into the air
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The Stratolaunch aircraft has passed another key milestone on the road to getting into the air
Stratolaunch founder Paul G Allen sadly passed away just days after this latest achievement 
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Stratolaunch founder Paul G Allen sadly passed away just days after this latest achievement 

After successfully completing low-speed taxi testing earlier this year, the giant Stratolaunch aircraft successfully hit a new milestone recently, reaching 90 mph (145 km/h) during its latest stage of runway testing. The announcement comes days after billionaire co-founder of the company Paul Allen passed away, just months before his long-dreamed creation finally hits the sky.

In development since 2011, the massive dual-fuselage Stratolaunch is undoubtedly an immensely ambitious engineering challenge. Designed to be the first commercial air-launch vehicle capable of sending relatively small payloads into a variety of Earth orbits, the world's largest plane has passed a series of key milestones over recent years.

After emerging from its hangar for the first time in mid-2017, it has undergone a series of engine tests, and earlier this year it successfully stormed down a runway in Mojave, California. These initial runway taxi tests took it up to a modest speed of 46 mph (74 km/h) but now it has almost doubled that with a newly revealed round of testing.

Medium-Speed Taxi Test

The latest video to be released by the company shows the plane reaching 80 mph (128 km/h) during its new phase of medium-speed taxi testing, but the description on the video suggests the plane ultimately hit a top speed of 90 mph (145 km/h) during the test. After further testing over the coming months, it's hoped the aircraft's maiden flight will take place within the next 12 to 18 months.

The timing of the new Stratolaunch milestone is bittersweet for all involved, with the successful taxi test taking place just days before the passing of founder Paul G Allen. Best known for co-founding Microsoft with Bill Gates, Allen's aerospace aspirations started in childhood and the Stratolaunch project was the focal point of those dreams.

It's hoped the Stratolaunch will make its maiden flight within the next 12 to 18 months.
It's hoped the Stratolaunch will make its maiden flight within the next 12 to 18 months.

CEO of Stratolaunch Jean Floyd tweeted his condolences following Allen's passing, suggesting everyone working on the project will be dedicated to fulfilling Allen's legacy. "Incredibly sad news," Floyd tweeted. "We deeply respect and admire Mr. Allen's vision. His legacy will be honored."

Source: Stratolaunch, YouTube

3 comments
Nik
''.......Paul Allen passed away.''? To where? Do you mean he died? 90 mph, seems a very modest speed, for any jet aircraft these days, it questions what the makers might be afraid might happen. The other question that comes to mind is, will existing commercial runways, and passenger facilities be able to accommodate such a monster? It also seems to have two cockpits. Does that mean there are two sets of flight crew? If so, which set has priority command?
Mikilee
@Nik... obviously you don't understand the development & test procedures for aircraft. Also, you don't seem to understand what the purpose of this craft is for...Please, research before you post ill informed comments.
Kalavo
I can just see this thing breaking up after liftoff, seriously do they think it’s a safe concept two body’s connected by that skinny wing center section😣