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Guru

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385 Feet Wingspan — Now That's a Big Plane!

09/21/2017 9:13 PM

..."The biggest airplane in the world by wingspan (385 feet, enough to reach through both goalposts on a football field with length to spare) just took another step toward first flight. Stratolaunch has completed the first phase of engine testing. For the first time, the gargantuan plane started its six Pratt & Whitney turbofan engines.

The Stratolaunch megaplane, built by Scaled Composites for Paul Allen's aerospace company Stratolaunch Systems and unveiled in May, is an enormous twin-fuselage aircraft designed to carry rockets up to altitude and drop them. The rockets will then ignite and carry satellites the rest of the way to orbit. It's a novel way of launching payloads to space that saves fuel by bringing the rocket up to high altitude before launch. Rival Virgin Galactic is working on a similar launch system, though Richard Branson's rocket-carrying aircraft is a modified 747."...

http://www.popularmechanics.com/flight/news/a28283/behemoth-stratolaunch-aircraft-fires-up-six-engines-first-time/

How much fuel will this save, how much cheaper will it be to put a satellite in orbit??

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Guru
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#1

Re: 385 Feet Wingspan--Now That's a Big Plane!

09/22/2017 11:27 AM

Hooooweee! Step back and let those big dogs eat!

I like this. It reminds somewhat of some other twin boom planes I heard of, but that wingspan is

clearly meant for high altitude and speed. The plan-form is somewhat reminiscent of the German Ta-152h high altitude fighter

of WWII infamy. Of course, this one is far more advanced and it is not a propeller plane.

Now, that, is a rocket-launching son of a gun. Stability and lift at high altitude is what makes this design so attractive to me.

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Guru

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#2

Re: 385 Feet Wingspan--Now That's a Big Plane!

09/22/2017 12:31 PM

It looks good. I don't have any numbers but it's got to be more efficient to lift a payload by flying it up to altitude rather than boosting it up with a rocket.

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: 385 Feet Wingspan--Now That's a Big Plane!

09/22/2017 12:37 PM

Way more, in the sense that the primary launch vehicle is totally reusable, and lands unprecariously, on a standard runway. Maybe the only limiter is the tonnage to orbit, but I am not sure. If things can recycle as fast as I think, this is only a minor inconvenience to setting up larger missions.

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#5
In reply to #3

Re: 385 Feet Wingspan--Now That's a Big Plane!

09/22/2017 8:30 PM

If you could launch a winged rocket from the stratolauncher that could survive reentry, you could have a completely reusable system. Perhaps that is too much to ask for.

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#4

Re: 385 Feet Wingspan — Now That's a Big Plane!

09/22/2017 5:37 PM

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#6

Re: 385 Feet Wingspan — Now That's a Big Plane!

09/23/2017 4:51 PM

" How much fuel will this save, how much cheaper will it be to put a satellite into orbit ? "

That is the $ 64,000 question ?

Answer :

Until the thing is test flighted & all the bugs get worked out, nobody really knows fer sure. Of course somebody has crunched the numbers and such.

What would happen if the thing flew and a rocket was dropped, then blew up, why the plane would be wasted, not to mention all of the flaming debris dropping down on persons and property unknown and the lawsuit's would make the Hindenburg disaster look like child's play.

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: 385 Feet Wingspan — Now That's a Big Plane!

09/25/2017 11:07 AM

What if a giant hole opened up, and swallowed the entire thing on the runway?

I think they need to perfect this design, then work on making the rocket daughter craft reusable (winged landing as well).

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#8
In reply to #7

Re: 385 Feet Wingspan — Now That's a Big Plane!

09/25/2017 11:29 AM

Hole ? as in sinkhole ? Yes, it has happened in Dallas, SFO, La Guardia, Monroe, not to mention the corvette museum & the guys bedroom in Florida.

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