If you’re a billionaire, you can spend your money on pretty much anything.
Some go with cliff-hanging evil lairs. Others will opt for planes that can potentially access said lairs. Big ones.
Considering his nearly finished Stratolaunch aircraft, Paul Allen appears to identify with the latter group.
Designed by a unit of the Microsoft cofounder’s Vulcan Aerospace, the 50-foot-tall Stratolaunch has a 385-foot wingspan and measures 238 feet in length. To put that in perspective, the twin-fuselage plane’s larger-than-a-football-field wingspan measures three times the distance covered by the Wright Brothers’ first powered flight.
The six-engine monster is constructed out of state-of-the-art composite materials that make the plane light and strong as well as fuel efficient, and its 1.3 million-pound maximum takeoff weight will enable it to transport satellite payloads up to 30,000 feet, where they can be sent into orbit.
“Twenty years ago, the advent of the Web and the subsequent proliferation of smartphones combined to enable billions of people to surmount the traditional limitations of geography and commerce,” Allen says. “Today, expanding access to LEO (Launch and Early Orbit) holds similar revolutionary potential.”
Nicknamed “the Roc” after a large mythical bird that could carry an elephant in its claws, the plane is 76 percent complete and could begin flying commercial satellite delivery missions as soon as 2020.
We like the smell of what the Roc's cooking.
Inline image courtesy of Vulcan