Stratolaunch: World’s Largest Airplane Successfully Completed Engine Test
The Stratolaunch team announced that they have completed the first phase of engine testing. For the first time the team started the aircraft’s six Pratt & Whitney turbofan engines.
The Stratolaunch team said “Engine testing was conducted with a build-up approach and consisted of three phases. First as a ‘dry motor,’ where we used an auxiliary power unit to charge the engine. Next, as a ‘wet motor,’ where we introduced fuel. Finally, each engine was started one at a time and allowed to idle. In these initial tests, each of the six engines operated as expected.”
The team already completed fuel testing, fire detection systems and carried out testing of flight control system for motion and rate of deflection of control surfaces on the wing and stabilizers.
Microsoft co-founder Paul allen’s Stratolaunch is the largest composite airplane ever built with a range of about 2,000 nm. Sitting on 28 wheels, it is 238 feet long, 50 feet high and has a wingspan of 385 feet. Stratolaunch will take off and land from a runway rather than a rocket launch platform.
Ultimately, Stratolaunch hopes to use the plane as a launch platform. The aircraft is designed to carry rockets, which will be attached underneath the wing connecting the two fuselages. Once the plane reaches a certain altitude, the rocket is meant to detach and ignite its engine, carrying its payload the rest of the way into space.