Paul Allen To Beat Spruce Goose
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and aerospace pioneer Burt Rutan are building a huge plane not seen on drawing boards since the late much troubled billionaire Howard Hughes built his giant Spruce Goose.
Known as Stratolaunch, the planned aircraft would launch cargo and astronauts into space. This latest entrant into the new space race has a wingspan longer than the distance travelled by the Wright Brothers in their earliest flights.
Allen has developed a twin-fuselage behemoth as wide as a football field that, fully loaded, would weigh 580,000kg, be powered by six 747 engines and have 96km of wiring coursing through it. Its landing gear has a total of 28 wheels..
The leviathan is designed to carry a rocket tethered to its belly to an altitude of about 35,000ft (10.6km). Once aloft, the rocket would drop, fire its engines and “air-launch” to orbit.