The Stratolaunch aircraft is the largest composite plane ever built

The Stratolaunch airplane is the world’s largest aircraft by wingspan and the largest all-composite plane. The aircraft completed its first low speed taxi test on 18 December 2017, travelling down the runway under its own power for the very first time.

The Stratolaunch carrier aircraft, currently in development by Scaled Composites, will be the largest aircraft ever flown. The aim of Stratolaunch aircraft is to provide convenient, reliable, and routine access to low Earth orbit.

The plane was weighed in May, when it was taken out of the hangar for the first time. The aircraft weighs approximately 500,000 lbs (226,796 kg). That may sound heavy, but remember that the Stratolaunch aircraft is the world’s largest plane by wingspan, measuring 385 ft. (117 metres). The aircraft is 238 ft. (72 metres) from nose to tail and stands 50 ft. (15 metres) tall from the ground to the top of the vertical tail.

The aircraft is designed for a max takeoff weight of 1,300,000 lbs. (589,670 kg), meaning it’s capable of carrying payloads up to approximately 550,000 lbs (249,475 kg). It has an operational range of approximately 2,000 nautical miles. The craft is capable of delivering payloads to multiple orbits and inclinations in a single mission.

2017 was an exciting year for the Stratolaunch aircraft. After being taken out of the hangar for the first time in May and doing fuelling tests, the engine was tested in September, and on 18 December the first low speed taxi test was made. The primary purpose of the latter activity was to test the aircraft’s ability to steer and stop, and an important step towards the first flight.

When the Stratolaunch will make its first flight is unclear as of yet, as the team behind the aircraft will first need to do further testing at increased speed.

Photos: Stratolaunch