Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft, has taken on Burt Rutan as his partner in his plan to design the world’s largest aircraft. Rutan is recently retired from Scaled Composites, the company he founded in Mojave, California. Allen is no stranger to the world of aviation – he was the funding behind the SpaceShipOne, the first privately funded manned rocket. His most recent endeavor is his company, Stratolaunch Systems. The objective for Stratolaunch is to deliver payloads (including people) to orbit Earth.
The Stratolaunch mother ship being created by Allen and Ruton will be powered by six Boeing 747 engines and have an mtow of about 1.2 million pounds. The 380-plus-foot wingspan will be supported by a multi-stage air-launchable booster. Rutan’s company, Scaled Composites, is building the carrier aircraft at their new facility. Dynetics will be handling the mating and integration system. The rockets will eventually carry people, however, the first test set for 2016, will be unmanned. It will be an estimated five years before people can fly on the Stratolaunch.