Blazers owner Paul Allen unveils the world's largest airplane by wingspan

The aeronautics company founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen provided the first look at the world's largest airplane based on wingspan.

The airplane from Stratolaunch weighs 500,000 pounds, and rested on all 28 wheels without support for the first time, the company revealed in a statement. 

 

 

"This was a crucial step in preparing the aircraft for ground testing, engine runs, taxi tests, and ultimately first flight," said Jean Floyd, CEO of Stratolaunch, in a statement

The plane is the largest in the world based on wingspan, measuring 385 feet, which is longer than a NFL football field, or just shy of two downtown Portland city blocks.

The Stratolaunch aircraft features two cockpits and six Boeing 747 engines. It's capable of carrying payloads up to 550,000 pounds.

Allen founded the company in 2011 as part of a plan to make travel to low Earth orbit more accessible. 

"Opening up access to (low Earth orbit) will deliver many benefits," Allen wrote on LinkedIn last year. "For example, we could deploy more satellites that would enable better understanding of why our weather patterns are changing and help increase agricultural productivity. And, we could study atmospheric chemistry more closely to better study and mitigate climate change."

Floyd says the aircraft will start testing at the Mojave Air and Space Port over the coming months, with plans for a launch demonstration in 2019.

"This is a first-of-its-kind aircraft, so we’re going to be diligent throughout testing and continue to prioritize the safety of our pilots, crew and staff," said Floyd.

Allen is among several tech entrepreneurs with an eye toward space. Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos both run their own aeronautics companies — SpaceX and Blue Origin respectively.

Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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