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Thread: World's biggest plane, Stratolaunch, marks another key milestone

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    World's biggest plane, Stratolaunch, marks another key milestone

    World's biggest plane, Stratolaunch, marks another key milestone

    stratolaunch.jpg

    Rockets have been the way to get satellites into orbit since the dawn of the space age. But Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen hopes to shake that up with help from the world’s biggest airplane.

    “Stratolaunch” is a 500,000-pound beast with twin fuselages and a wingspan of 385 feet. Allen’s Seattle-based company, Stratolaunch Systems, is developing it as a platform for lifting rockets into the stratosphere before launching them into space. It’s seen as a cheaper, more reliable route to low-Earth orbit (LEO) — the sweet spot for many kinds of satellites.

    The plane is still in development and has yet to fly, but last December it taxied out onto the runway at the Mojave Air & Space Port in Mojave, California. In another test last Sunday, it hit a new top taxi speed of 46 miles per hour. If all goes according to plan, the plane will take its first test flight next year. As to when Stratolaunch might begin commercial operations, no date has been given.

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    But as much as it's touted "the biggest", it's not as "bigger" as I thought.

    comparison.jpg

    Its wingspan is definitely longer, but its 'sleeker', and not as big nose to tail.

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    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cow Poke View Post
    But as much as it's touted "the biggest", it's not as "bigger" as I thought.

    comparison.jpg

    Its wingspan is definitely longer, but its 'sleeker', and not as big nose to tail.
    probably because it is meant to carry and launch rockets.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparko View Post
    probably because it is meant to carry and launch rockets.
    It is, but that seems to be one of the concerns --- its payload won't be very great.

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    From that same article...

    But the Stratolaunch concept has its drawbacks, including a smaller payload capacity than other options.

    A spacecraft typically weighs just 1-2 percent as much as the rocket that launches it, Hudson says. Since Stratolaunch is designed to carry up to 550,000 pounds, its payload capacity is likely to be 5,000 to 10,000 pounds. That’s enough to ferry astronauts to a space station or launch small satellites. But it’s nowhere near the payload capacity of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.

    SpaceX’s booster can carry 50,265 pounds to low-Earth orbit and up to 18,300 pounds to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO), an intermediate orbit where large communication satellites are launched to before they power themselves to geostationary orbit, where they essentially hover above the same part of the planet continuously.

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    tWebber Roy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cow Poke View Post
    But as much as it's touted "the biggest", it's not as "bigger" as I thought.

    comparison.jpg

    Its wingspan is definitely longer, but its 'sleeker', and not as big nose to tail.
    But the Hercules never went into service - it only existed as a prototype, and only flew during testing.* The stratolaunch is bigger than anything that has actually been used.

    *The flight to Melanesia doesn't count for obvious reasons.
    Mountain Man: A skin cell is a skin cell. It doesn't grow, it doesn't organize, it doesn't adapt, it doesn't self-sustain, it doesn't metabolize, it doesn't respond to stimuli.

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    tWebber Roy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cow Poke View Post
    From that same article...

    ... A spacecraft typically weighs just 1-2 percent as much as the rocket that launches it, Hudson says. Since Stratolaunch is designed to carry up to 550,000 pounds, its payload capacity is likely to be 5,000 to 10,000 pounds. ...
    That's like saying that because an ant can carry 500 times its own body weight, a human can too. It's absurd. You can't legitimately apply limitations or capabilities of one design/structure/technology to another radically different one.
    Mountain Man: A skin cell is a skin cell. It doesn't grow, it doesn't organize, it doesn't adapt, it doesn't self-sustain, it doesn't metabolize, it doesn't respond to stimuli.

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    See, the Thing is... Cow Poke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roy View Post
    That's like saying that because an ant can carry 500 times its own body weight, a human can too. It's absurd. You can't legitimately apply limitations or capabilities of one design/structure/technology to another radically different one.
    Yeah, I was still contemplating that.... But they're not really saying what their anticipated lift capacity is, are they? Can you find that?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roy View Post
    But the Hercules never went into service - it only existed as a prototype, and only flew during testing.* The stratolaunch is bigger than anything that has actually been used.
    No argument, but the Hercules has logged more flight hours (seconds) than the StratoLauncher!

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    tWebber Roy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cow Poke View Post
    Yeah, I was still contemplating that.... But they're not really saying what their anticipated lift capacity is, are they? Can you find that?
    "the aircraft is intended to carry up to 550,000 pounds to an altitude of 35,000 feet. "

    Not sure if that is gross payload (in which case the cargo would be 50klb) or net.
    Mountain Man: A skin cell is a skin cell. It doesn't grow, it doesn't organize, it doesn't adapt, it doesn't self-sustain, it doesn't metabolize, it doesn't respond to stimuli.

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