By Alex Fitzpatrick
May 31, 2017

What’s longer than a football field, heavier than a blue whale and powered by six Boeing 747 engines? The Stratolaunch, a rocket-launching airplane that left its hangar for the first time on May 31.

The Stratolaunch is designed to carry space rockets to high altitude, where they’re then launched into orbit. The company behind the aircraft, founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, says such airborne rocket launches “significantly reduce the risk of costly delays or cancellations.”

Stratolaunch Systems Corp

The aircraft has yet to actually take off, but the company behind Stratolaunch says it’s expecting to perform a launch demonstration by “as early as 2019.”

What’s longer than a football field, heavier than a blue whale and powered by six Boeing 747 engines? The Stratolaunch, a rocket-launching airplane that left its hangar for the first time on May 31.

Stratolaunch Systems Corp

Write to Alex Fitzpatrick at alex.fitzpatrick@time.com.

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