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Wednesday, 14 December 2011 12:05

Paul Allen does a Howard Hughes

Written by Nick Farell



Spruce Goose anyone?


Former Microsoft boss Paul Allen appears to be channelling the ghost of another billionaire Howard Hughes by building a huge plane. Hughes built the Spruce Goose which was a huge sea plane which only flew a few miles before it was hidden in a hanger, never to take flight again.

Now Paul Allen is dusting off the idea to build the world's largest plane to launch passengers and cargo into orbit. He wants to create a twin-fuselage aircraft, with wings longer than a football field, to carry a rocket high into the atmosphere and drop it. 
This means that you will not need a launch pad and expensive rocket fuel. Stratolaunch Systems, founded by Microsoft tycoon Paul Allen, unveiled the model for its space plane in Seattle today. The plane has the wing span of a football field which is handy if you want a quick five aside in zero g.

Test flights are scheduled for 2016 with trips carrying passengers to follow within the next five It should be another five years before people can fly on the system that Allen and Rutan are calling Stratolaunch. Rutan will build the carrier aircraft, using six 747 engines. The spaceship and booster will be provided by another Internet tycoon, Elon Musk of PayPal, who has built a successful commercial rocket.

Nick Farell

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