World’s biggest ever airplane unveiled by Microsoft co-founder

Stratolaunch rolls out of the hangar for fueling tests
Stratolaunch rolls out of the hangar for fueling tests

Billionaire and co-founder of Microsoft, Paul Allen, has just unveiled the world's biggest plane, possessing a wing span longer than an entire football field.

The Stratolaunch carrier plane rolled out of its hangar and in to public view at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California on Wednesday to undergo fueling tests.

The giant plane is designed to launch rockets into orbit from an altitude of around 30,000 feet. It has a wingspan of 385 feet (117 m), a length of 238 feet (72 m) and a tail height of 50 feet (15 m).

According to Stratolaunch Systems Corporation, the plane uses six Boeing 747 engines built by Pratt & Whitney and has a maximum payload capacity of approximately 550,000 lbs.

Jean Floyd, Chief Executive Officer of Stratolaunch Systems, wrote in a statement Wednesday that the fuel testing "marks a historic step in our work to achieve Paul G. Allen's vision of normalizing access to low Earth orbit."

Stratolaunch is based at the Mojave Air & Space Port, California
Credit: Stratolaunch Systems Corp.

Stratolaunch previously announced that it will initially launch a single Orbital ATK Pegasus XL rocket, but the firm intends that the plane could ultimately launch up to 3 satellite rockets in one flight.

"Over the coming weeks and months, we'll be actively conducting ground and flightline testing at the Mojave Air and Space Port.

"This is a first-of-its-kind aircraft, so we're going to be diligent throughout testing and continue to prioritize the safety of our pilots, crew and staff," said Jean Floyd.

Floyd added that Stratolaunch is on track to perform its first launch demonstration in early 2019.