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Microsoft Co-Founder Creates Largest Plane To Launch Rockets

Statolaunch Systems revealed its massive 385-foot wingspan aircraft this week at a hangar in the Mojave Desert. Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, has been working on the project for the past six years.

The aircraft is 500,000 pounds and it can reach a maximum takeoff weight of 1.3 million pounds. It's the largest plane in the world in terms of wingspan.
Stratolaunch plans to use the aircraft as a rocket launcher. Rockets will be brought up into the sky, allowing them to skip a ground-based launch. The company already has one customer, Orbital ATK.
Allen previously worked on SpaceShipOne, which utilized a similar air-based rocket launch setup. That project won Allen the Ansari X Prize in 2004 and SpaceShipOne became the basis for Virgin Galactic's work.
Stratolaunch must still put the plane through further testing. If all goes well, a demo flight could occur by 2019.



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