Paul Allen, the billionaire Microsoft co-founder has been funding the project. According to Stratolaunch Systems Corporation’s chief executive Jean Floyd’s blog post it has been under proceedings for six years and is on track for its first launch demonstration in as early as 2019.
He added that the aircraft would be a first of its kind and that’s why the testing has to be thorough and diligent. If successful, it will be a historic step towards achieving Paul G. Allen’s idea of normalizing access to low Earth orbit.
Floyd also said that Stratolaunch has been creating hype as the worlds largest plane and the biggest airline ever built and in the upcoming weeks and months the company will be testing fuel systems, engines and more on the ground at its air and space port in the Mojave Desert.
The plane was found resting on its 28 wheels for the first time after the support structures were removed during the past few weeks. The Stratolaunch aircraft weighs 500,000 pounds (226,796 kilograms) with the world’s largest plane wingspan of 385 feet (117 meters). It is 238 feet from nose to end, and it is 50 feet from the ground to the tip of its vertical tail.
The project was launched with the promise of revolutionizing orbital travel in the post-space shuttle era by philanthropist Allen and his partners.
At the time of launch of the project Stratolaunch, Allen said that it would use huge passenger jet engines, would be able to carry a rocket and launch payloads, satellites and even humans someday, into low-Earth orbit.
Allen pledged that the project would be flexible than the ground based rocket launches and would be cost effective for cargo and human missions to space.
The tech industry hero Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX and electric car Tesla also has private space travel in his vision.
The launch of SpaceX’s 11th commercial resupply mission aboard an unmanned Dragon cargo ship was scheduled for 5:55 pm (2155 GMT).
A Falcon 9 rocket propelled the Dragon into low-Earth orbit, where it eventually connected with the space station, circling the Earth at a height of some 250 miles (400 kilometers).