World's Largest Airplane: Stratolaunch Shown In Pictures

Stratolaunch, the world’s largest airplane, completed a land controls test on Sunday, taking the massive aircraft one step closer to its eventual goal of taking flight. At more than 500,000 pounds and with a wingspan of 385 feet, the plane is truly a sight to behold.

taxi_test_1 The Stratolaunch is the largest airplane in the world. Photo Credit Stratolaunch Systems Corp

The Stratolaunch is still being built and is currently under construction at Mojave Air & Space in Mojave, California. On Sunday it hit a taxi speed of 46 miles per hour, which is a monumental landmark. However, it's not quite ready yet. Engineers hope that the plane will be operational and flying within the next 10 years.

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taxi_test_2 The Stratolaunch will make it less expensive and more reliable to launch satellites into Earth's orbit. Photo Courtesy of Stratolaunch Systems Corp

“The primary purpose of the activity was to evaluate updates made to the steering and primary braking systems. We are excited to report all objectives of this test were achieved,” company spokesperson Alex Moji said in an email to Space News. “The data collected will be used to evaluate and update our flight simulator for crew training.”

Related: World’s Largest Airplane: Stratolaunch Completes Taxi Control Test

strato2 The Stratolaunch will likely be ready for flight within the next decade. Photo Courtesy of Stratolaunch Systems Corp

This enormous plane won’t be carrying the average cargo. Rather, it will serve as another way to get objects, namely satellites, into the the stratosphere before getting them into space orbit, NBC News reported. Satellites usually launch from Earth; the Stratolaunch will take them directly to the stratosphere, the second major layer of the atmosphere and which starts anywhere between 5 miles and 11 miles from the surface of the Earth, depending on the starting location. This mode of transportation will be more reliable and less expensive than traditional rocket launches, Next Big Future reported. 

strato3 The plane weighs more than 500,000 pounds. Photo Courtesy of Stratolaunch Systems Corp

At this time, Stratolaunch has not revealed any dates for future tests, Space News reported.