Stratolaunch Systems is pioneering innovative solutions to revolutionise space transportation. The world's largest aircraft is already under construction. Check out the video…
The official name of the mammoth aircraft is Model 351, but it already has a nickname: the Roc, after the mythological bird big enough to carry away elephants for dinner.
The record-breaking plane, which will have six engines and twin fuselages, is being built to carry a rocket to 9 000 metres. From there, the rocket will drop from the plane and blast into space. The first payloads will consist of satellites and other cargo, but the programme’s backers say the rocket will eventually carry passengers. The Roc will be a flying launchpad – government and private-sector customers welcome.
When the space shuttle fleet was retired in 2011, the United States lost its only way to get astronauts off the planet. Stratolaunch is the latest private-sector initiative to try to fill that void.
Find out more about the Stratolaunch project in PM's May 2012 issue – on sale on 23 April.