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Stratolaunch Took to Air Two Years Ago

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
April 13, 2021
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Stratolaunch takes off. (Credit: Stratolaunch)

Two years ago today, on April 13, 2019, Stratolaunch’s enormous dual fuselage aircraft with a 385-ft wingspan took off from the Mojave Air and Space Port trailing a cloud of dust. It flew over the Mojave Desert for 2 hours 29 minutes before landing back on runway 12-30.

The plane was the dream child of Scaled Composites’ founder Burt Rutan and funded by the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, Paul Allen. It was designed to air launch satellites using a medium-size rocket.

Allen didn’t live to see the first, and thus far, only flight test of the aircraft. He passed away the previous October from non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Stratolaunch flies (Credit: Stratolaunch)

His sister, Jody, was the executor of Allen’s estimated $20 billion estate. She decided to sell the company. The new owners are now preparing to use the aircraft to launch hypersonic test vehicles.

The giant aircraft was out on Runway 12-30 for several days last week. It was likely conducting some taxi tests. It is not clear when it will take to the skies again.

One response to “Stratolaunch Took to Air Two Years Ago”

  1. GaryChurch says:

    Using this monster to get a launch vehicle, and not a very big one, up to around 40,000 feet and 500 miles an hour was never going to pay off. I just do not get how investors get conned into this stuff. The first stage of a launch vehicle does the same thing in…under a minute? And then it keeps going.

    I would say it is a great design for a jetliner if all the passengers are carried in a center pod that can be jettisoned and soft land (perhaps using a combination of parachute and rockets) if the plane…has a problem. We then might make every year 2017; the first and so far only year there were no fatalities in a commercial airline disaster.

    That is something to invest in.

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