Test gets Stratolaunch super-plane set for takeoff

Stratolaunch plane
A photo taken during a high-speed taxi test shows the nose gear on Stratolaunch’s twin-fuselage airplane rising from the runway at California’s Mojave Air and Space Port. (Stratolaunch Photo)

Stratolaunch, the aerospace venture created by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, says its twin-fuselage, six-engine aircraft raced as fast as 136 mph down the runway at California’s Mojave Air and Space Port today during its latest taxi test.

That’s almost takeoff speed for the world’s largest airplane, which is designed to serve as a flying launch platform for orbital-class rockets.

One of the pictures released in the wake of today’s test run shows the plane’s nose gear rising from the runway, and Stratolaunch used the hashtag #wheelie in its celebratory tweet. It’s been said that one of the challenges during these high-speed tests is to keep the 385-foot-wide plane on the ground.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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