Inside the world’s largest plane, which has a wingspan longer than a football field and just made its first flight

The Stratolaunch completed its first flight on April 13.

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The Stratolaunch completed its first flight on April 13.
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Stratolaunch

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.

The Stratolaunch made its first flight on April 13, the company said in a press release. The aircraft flew for over two hours and reached a maximum speed of 189 mph.

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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Youtube / Stratolaunch

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

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YouTube / Stratolaunch

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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YouTube / Stratolaunch

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.

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YouTube / Stratolaunch

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

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YouTube / Stratolaunch

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

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YouTube / Stratolaunch

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

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YouTube / Stratolaunch

The aircraft made its first flight on April 13.

The Stratolaunch completed its first flight on April 13.

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Stratolaunch

It flew for over two hours.

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Stratolaunch

It reached a top speed of 189 mph.

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Stratolaunch