Stratolaunch composite aircraft rolls out for the first time to begin fuel tests

The aircraft has a wingspan of 385 feet and is reportedly the largest composite aircraft ever built.

The Stratolaunch aircraft was towed outside on May 31 for the first time to begin the ground test phase. The massive carrier aircraft will deliver a launch vehicle (rocket) to a high altitude, from where the rocket will detach, carry and deliver its payload to LEO. The aircraft has a wingspan of 385 feet and is the largest composite aircraft ever built.

A Scaled Composites (Mojave, Calif.) team of 300 engineers and fabricators designed, built and hand assembled the twin fuselage vehicle as an air launch platform with a payload capacity of about 550,000 pounds. This significant milestone in the project’s history brings the aircraft into the test phase and one step closer to first flight. Program Director Joe Ruddy said that the Scaled test team successfully met all test objectives.

A rollout of 270 feet and a return to the hangar was performed with two tugs. After the test debrief, the aircraft was pulled back out of the hangar at the end of the day and put into position for the upcoming fuel test series.

Jean Floyd, CEO of Stratolaunch Systems Corp., stated: “Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be actively conducting ground and flightline testing at the Mojave Air and Space Port. 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. Stratolaunch is on track to perform its first launch demonstration as early as 2019.”