The Large Stratolaunch Aircraft just Reached a New Milestone

The large Stratolaunch aircraft just reached a new milestone after completing low-speed taxi testing earlier in 2018. Now the Stratolaunch has reached 90 mph (145 km/h) during its most recent stage of runway testing. A development that comes days after billionaire co-founder of the company Paul Allen passed away, only months before his long-thought-out creation finally fly.

These medium-speed runway tests are essential for deploying the Stratolaunch into the air. It’s hoped the Stratolaunch will make its maiden flight within the next year to year and a half. Unfortunately, Paul G Allen the founder of Stratolaunch passed away just days after this latest accomplishment.

The giant dual-fuselage Stratolaunch, which has been in production since 2011, is a massively ambitious engineering challenge. Built to be the first commercial air-launch vehicle able to send relatively small payloads into a variety of Earth orbits, the world’s largest plane has passed a series of important milestones over the years.

This is an important development for Asgardia as they will need to send payloads into space after building habitable platforms in low-Earth orbit.

The first time it came out of its hangar was in mid-2017. Since then it has undergone a series of engine tests, and earlier in 2018 it successfully travelled down a runway in Mojave, California. These first runway taxi tests took it up to a moderate speed of 46 mph (74 km/h), but since then it has almost doubled that speed with a newly announced round of testing.

The company released their newest video showing the plane reaching 80 mph (128 km/h) during its latest stage of medium-speed taxi testing. However, the description on the video suggests the aircraft hit a top speed of 90 mph (145 km/h) during the trial. After further testing over the coming months, it’s hoped the aircraft’s maiden flight will take place within the next 12 to 18 months.

Although the new Stratolaunch milestone is exciting for all involved, it’s marked by a pang of sadness that the successful taxi test took place mere days before the passing of founder Paul G Allen. Best known for co-founding Microsoft with Bill Gates, Allen’s aerospace aspirations began when he was a child, and the Stratolaunch project was the main focus of those dreams.

CEO of Stratolaunch Jean Floyd tweeted his condolences after Allen passed away, suggesting everyone working on the project will be dedicated to fulfilling Allen’s legacy. Floyd tweeted. It’s incredibly sad news. We deeply respect and admire Mr. Allen’s vision. His legacy will be honoured.

If you’ve been following the Stratolaunch developments and you’re fascinated by space, science, and technology then join Asgardia today and network with like-minded people.