A giant aircraft that will be capable of carrying rockets towards low earth orbit has reached a major milestone.
Stratolaunch Systems successfully tested six jet engines yesterday that will be used to propel its 117-metre wingspan plane towards earth’s atmosphere.
The aeronautical company unveiled the huge carrier plane in May with the hope that it will ultimately be able to carry three heavy Pegasus rockets at a time to 35,000 feet.
From there it will drop its payload which after a couple of seconds of free fall will fire its own boosters and enter low earth orbit.
The ultimate aim will be to carry satellites towards the earth’s atmosphere, with the company picking 2019 as an initial launch date.
The Stratolaunch project is funded by billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and the aircraft is built by Vulcan Aerospace.
Despite not have flown, Stratolaunch has already struck a deal with Orbital ATK, which intends to use to send small satellites into space.
This method of firing rockets into space requires far less fuel than using a launch pad.
Regarding its recent tests, Stratolaunch said: ‘In these initial tests, each of the six engines operated as expected,” the company said.
‘Over the next few months, we will continue to test the aircraft’s engines at higher power levels and varying configurations, culminating to the start of taxi tests.’