Stratolaunch Starts Construction In Mojave

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Stratolaunch Systems, the new company formed in December by Paul Allen to build a giant Burt Rutan-designed aircraft that will launch payloads into Earth orbit, has started construction on a production facility and a hangar at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. Over the next year, the company plans to tear down a pair of 747-400 aircraft and salvage parts and subsystems to integrate into the new airplane. "Today marks the start of an exciting journey for us," said Gary Wentz, CEO of Stratolaunch. "We look forward to many years of great work in Mojave." The two new buildings together will comprise about 180,000 square feet of workspace and offices.

The fabrication facility is projected to be completed late this year, and the hangar has a projected completion date of mid-2013. The Stratolaunch, which will be the world's largest airplane, will weigh 1.2 million pounds, with a 385-foot wingspan. Plans call for six jet engines like those used on 747s, and booster rocket engines from Elon Musk's SpaceX. Test flights are planned for 2015.