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First images of the world's largest airplane

Holy crap, it's real! Behold the first glimpse of Paul Allen's crazy space venture: The largest airplane in history, a 385-foot (117-meter) wingspan beast designed to carry and launch a giant rocket to space, with a combined weigh of 1,200,000 pounds (540,000 kg)! Check out the mind-blowing photos. ( More...

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The separate tails is identical to the earlier designs of White Knight, and White Knight II - the launchers for Space Ship I and II - Flying from the right (I'll call it a) sponson - pilots just fly their seats - the rest of the airplane (and passengers) are along for the ride...
louis rosa 3
I wonder it there is utility in in-air refueling (fueling) It could get the plane off the ground with a lighter weight, then increase speed/lift, and then fill up to allow climb to altitude. I don't know if this had been considered in the past, If so, then I would like someone to tell me, thanks to my esteemed colleagues.
skylab72 2
That is a complex trade-off. It works better for extremely fast aircraft than the extremely heavy. Ref SR-71. The bottom line is you have to get some X tons of fuel off the ground, and if you are already building an mega-plane the relativly slow fuel transfer rates mid-air make the fuel burn during refueling a serious additional cost. The structural issues of large aircraft far outweigh the weight of fuel at lift-off issue.
John Yount 4
The USA is in need of a aircraft that will assist in stopping unwanted wildfires. Center section retardant tank designed (gravity) to deliver 28,000 gallons in twelve seconds. Sounds crazy, N3N, TBM, B17, DC4,6&7's, DC10, 747, SuperLauncher.
Canadair (Bombardier) has it, the CL 215 and 415. In areas with lakes or big rivers they can refill on the fly and carry a lot of water to a wildfire.

Most DNR's around here that do this sort of thing are using these planes because we have lots of lakes and rivers and they can refill on the move from a large lake. They are much more effective at putting water on a fire than a plane that has to return to base every load and they are equipped to mix in retardant if needed. They can hold about 1400 gallons of water and can often make drops on a 10 minute cycle or less, depending on how far the lake is from the fire.

In Minnesota they are actually giving up their CL 215's for modified turboprop powered crop duster planes (Air Tractor AT 802's) that hold about 820 gallons and can refill on the go from even smaller lakes. This spring will be their first fire season and we'll see how effective they are.

The MNDNR is citing too high operating and maintenance cost for the 215's. Rotary engine mechanics are getting harder and harder to find around here and new 415's with turboprops are too expensive.

They also use helicopters that can fill from something as small as a beaver pond.
Mirage642 1
You are wasting time and money fighting unwanted wildfires. It's actually cheaper to pay for all the homes burned up than to fight the fire with aircraft.
Great point - who has marshmallows?
paul trubits 7
Unless it is your house.
ken young 2
As they might say in Boston "WICKED HUGE!!!!"
NickFlightX 2
Holy crap!
Randy Barron 2
One of the coolest aircraft ever, if it flies. The embedded video has some very slick animation. Thanks for posting.
Jhon Lewis 2
I think for commercial space travel to become popular, we need to try and eliminate multiple stages, I feel a space plane would probably be the best way to go, something with enough juice in it to go into space without the need of breaking anything off and wasting more money. I feel that nasa is the only one that knows this.
Matt Lacey 1
Recovering stuff from above Mach 8 is hard, Mach 6 to 8 is doable but expensive. Anyone with access to a textbook can know how to do it. NASA is beholden to its cost-plus contractors, via their Congressional hooks. Don't look to them for innovation.
skylab72 1
Remember, the vehicle this thing drops is subject to redesign. Scaled Composites uses a step-wise refinement style of development. It should be clear that reusability is a design criteria here.
A crap full of holes that is amazing!
Oh wow...I just looked at that "plane"....honestly though, it just looks like GOD'S glider.
Mark Thomas 1
I'm no engineer but it looks flimsy at the back end. What's to stop the two tail sections from moving independently of each other? God forbid they have a mechanical issue with one tail or the other. Is there a first flight schedule or anything like that? Is this a Burt Rutan design?
Ken Martin 3
To answer your question: Carbon Fiber and ply orientation.
skylab72 2
And yes Burt is involved.
Dear Mark and Ken , kindly allow me to coin two words for these processes as Fiberization and Hybridization ! These two processes coupled with nano technology are the answers to most of the complex applications of the day . Right ?
susan petry 1
curious about angle/flare at TO/landing as this has no discernible nose or tail gear.
Jerry Rader 2
It appears to have landing gear on the nose of each "fuselage/boom" sections.
skylab72 1
It kinda lands like a B-52...
jumpjet19 1
Where are the rotor blades. But I like John Yount's plans for it!!
Jake Angelo 1
So, what are the odds of the rocket launching into space followed by the plane..(now 178,000 lbs lighter) skipping off into space shortly thereafter? Talk about a "moment to remember". "Earth...we have a problem".
skylab72 1
Resupply / support for the ISS is about to become a LOT less expensive.
Jeffrey Bue 1
I really hope that this is built.
Dwight Hartje 1
Man that's cool! Is this to replace Spaceship 2?
Mark Thomas 1
You pilots out there, would it be weird flying something so far right of the centreline?
skylab72 1
No worse than riding a side car equipped motorcycle.
frank1711 1
"If you think this will go nowhere, remember that we are talking about Paul Allen—who has more money than god" Or more money than he knows what do with.
Torsten Hoff 0
I wonder how far the rocket will be allowed to drop following separation.

Lighting that big firecracker while Stratozilla is still close-by would make me soil my undergarments -- rockets have been know to experience RUD (Rapid Unintended Disassembly), and even if everything goes well, the pressure waves from rocket motors that size are enormously destructive.
Sandy Sandmire -1
I hope P Allen is part of the payload and where-ever it lands leave him there.


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