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Microsoft co-founder unveils world’s biggest plane

The world’s biggest plane, boasting a 117-metre wingspan, has been launched by the Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

The six-engine, dual-hulled Stratolaunch aircraft is designed to launch satellites into orbit. Launching the satellites on rockets while the Stratolaunch is in flight has the advantage of saving fuel comparing to sending them into orbit from a launchpad.

It is designed to carry a rocket and payload with a combined weight of up to 250,000 kg and when in development was expected to cost $300m – although whether it came in on budget has not been revealed.

Satellite networks, based on low-cost spacecraft, are the fastest-growing segment of the global satellite industry which reported more than $208bn in revenue in 2015, according to a Satellite Industry Association report.

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