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Stratolaunch airplane emerges from its lair

Stratolaunch plane
An aerial view shows the Stratolaunch airplane outside its hangar for the first time. The twin-fuselage aircraft is the world’s largest airplane, measured by wingspan. (Stratolaunch Photo)

Six years after Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen started up Stratolaunch Systems, the billionaire’s air-launch venture brought its humongous twin-fuselage airplane out in the open for the first time today.

“Stratolaunch came out of the hangar for fuel testing,” Allen said in a tweet that featured an aerial photo of the plane. More pictures were posted to Stratolaunch’s website.

Stratolaunch CEO Jean Floyd said the plane’s emergence from its hangar at California’s Mojave Air and Space Port was part of a “major milestone in its journey toward providing convenient, reliable and routine access to low Earth orbit.”

The plane is designed to carry up to three Orbital ATK Pegasus XL rockets at a time into the air, and then set them loose to launch payloads into orbit.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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