Stratolaunch Aircraft Strolls Outside for a Little California Sun

Stratolaunch aircraft rolls out of its hangar in Mojave, Calif. (Credit: Stratolaunch)

Stratolaunch emerged from its hangar over the weekend to soak up some California sun. Engineers took the giant, twin fuselage carrier aircraft outside for some tests.

Stratolaunch carrier aircraft has a wingspan of 385 ft. (Credit: Stratolaunch)

The announced plan was to conduct some taxi tests on Runway 12/30. The plane didn’t make it that far. Engineers put the airplane through a series of fueling, fueling, full-power engine and communication tests.

Stratolaunch carrier aircraft outside for tests. (Credit: Stratolaunch)

The aircraft will begin by launching Pegasus XL boosters, which are produced by Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems.

Stratolaunch carrier plane is a dual fuselage aircraft. (Credit: Stratolaunch)

The company is also working on a medium launcher that expected to debut in 2021. There are not a lot of details about the project, which is under the direction of Vice President of Propulsion Jeff Thornburg.

Stratolaunch aircraft outside for testing. (Credit: Stratolaunch)

I caught a glimpse of the aircraft from Highway 14 during my return from the Small Satellite Conference in Utah. I was probably five miles away at the time, but the thing still looked massive sitting there next to the hangar.

  • Terry Stetler

    “The company is also working on a medium launcher that expected to debut in 2021…, which is under the direction of Vice President of Propulsion Jeff Thornburg”

    Would that be the Black Ice spaceplane/RLV reported a few months ago?

    BTW: Jeff Thorburgh was on the team which developed SpaceX’s Raptor? HeHalso testified about it before Congress.

  • Larry J

    The Stratolaunch aircraft is certainly a beast. Only time will tell if that beast is really a white elephant.

  • redneck

    I can’t justify how it looks to me and don’t ask anyone to agree. It’s not aesthetically pleasing to my eye. It just looks wrong.

  • Larry J

    The old saying that “if it looks right, it’ll fly right” is accurate for many things. However, the history of aviation is filled with planes that just looked wrong or weird but were very functional. Stratolaunch’s plane was designed to fulfill a specific function. It follows the other design dictate of “form follows function.” It may not be pretty but it may work quite well. We don’t know the answer to that yet.

  • Bulldog

    I’m willing to bet it will look a bit better once they apply some graphics to it. Its amazing how ugly many aircraft are when they are stripped down to their base coat or bare metal/composites.

  • Douglas Messier

    Possibly. Details are scarce.

  • windbourne

    How funny. I think that is elegant. the ability to strap in a cargo pod in the middle makes that very useful. When not launching crafts, it can carry large cargo, such as say a BA2100 unit. I would suggest a BFR, but BFR will simply launch self.

  • therealdmt
  • Bulldog

    No argument there! The Hughes H-1 was one of the most beautiful aircraft to ever grace the skies. 🙂 And, fair skies Jim Wright.