Stratolaunch, the world’s largest airplane, with a wingspan larger than a football field, has just passed another major milestone.
On Sunday, the Stratolaunch completed a series of land control tests, which included hitting a new runway taxi top speed of 40 knots, approximately 74km/h.
Once testing is complete, the aircraft will be used to help fire satellites and other objects into space, including the ‘Dream Chaser’ spaceship which could transport astronauts to and from low earth orbit within 24 hours.
The Stratolaunch, which has six engines and a wingspan of 117 metres is so big it needs two fuselages, each of which has its own cockpit.
The enormous plane is set to officially take to the skies in 2019.
Despite reaching its current speeds, it would need to hit at least double that if it has any hope of taking off. Typically an airliner needs to reach between 130 and 150 knots before it can take off.
Stratolaunch has been funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen who believes it will be used as a cheap way to launch satellites into space.
Captured new video of @Stratolaunch plane as it reached a top taxi speed of 40 knots (46 mph) with all flight surfaces in place on Sunday. The team verified control responses, building on the first taxi tests conducted in December. pic.twitter.com/OcH1ZkxZRA
— Paul Allen (@PaulGAllen) February 26, 2018