Friday, May 18, 2018

Billionaire Paul Allen's Stratolaunch preps for first flight this summer

Billionaire Paul Allen's massive Stratolaunch aircraft is gearing up to take flight for the first time.

Stratolaunch CEO Jean Floyd revealed the plans on Twitter, saying the giant satellite-launching aircraft would conduct three more taxi tests on the runways at its California home base in the Mojave Desert before taking to the skies.

"The Stratolaunch aircraft remains on-track for first flight later this summer. Three more taxi tests and we will be ready to 'slip the surly bonds,'" said Floyd, who did not reveal any specific date for the flight.

In a separate tweet this week, Floyd added: "Operations are coming on-line as we approach aircraft first flight this summer. Launch vehicles will be integrated in our 88,000 square foot low-bay and rolled directly under the aircraft for mating ops in the 103,256 square foot T-hanger."

The Stratolaunch aircraft is wider than the length of a football field and 14 feet longer than a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Floyd also offered aviation enthusiasts a few more details about the wheels on the jet. For instance, the Stratolaunch aircraft has a total of 28 wheels, he wrote. Of the 28 wheels, 24 are Boeing 747 main body gear assemblies, or 12 wheels on each Stratolaunch fuselage.

There are also two nose gear wheels on each fuselage, also from a 747, he added.

The company has been somewhat secretive about what's inside the airplane, but Floyd shared details recently.

"The majority of the Stratolaunch aircraft controls are legacy 747 components (engines, gear, cockpit, hydraulics and avionics)," he said on Twitter. "Proud to be hosting such a reliable and successful heritage on our aircraft. We salute the history of the incredible 747."

(Andrew McIntosh - Puget Sound Business Journal)

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