DM LONDON - The world’s largest plane, Stratolaunch, could be just months away from its first flight. 

The aircraft - which is the vision of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen - has a wingspan longer than a football field and comes equipped with two cockpits, 28 wheels and six engines normally used to power 747 jumbo jets.

Eventually will be used to transport rockets carrying satellites and even a newly revealed manned space plane into the Earth’s upper atmosphere, where they will blast off into space.

Now, Allen has said it will finally take the the skies ‘this fall’.

‘When you see that giant plane, it’s a little nutty,’ Allen told Wired’s Steven Levy in an interview about the project.

‘And you don’t build it unless you’re very serious, not only about wanting to see the plane fly but to see it fulfill its purpose. Which is getting vehicles in orbit.’

Wired also revealed the plane is so big, it had to meet building codes.

‘It starts to look like a building,’ Matt Stinemetze, Scaled’s chief engineer, who works on the project, said.

‘In fact, the way California treats it, it is a building. It has to meet codes for sprinklers and electrical power.’

The firm today announced a whole family of craft that will be launched by the megaplane.

The company’s unique air-launch system will use the world’s largest aircraft as a mobile launch platform, capable of deploying launch vehicles that will carry satellites to multiple orbits and inclinations on a single mission.

With these new vehicles, Stratolaunch is poised to make access to space convenient, affordable, and routine.

‘We are excited to share for the first time some details about the development of our own, proprietary Stratolaunch launch vehicles, with which we will offer a flexible launch capability unlike any other,’ said Jean Floyd, Chief Executive Officer at Stratolaunch.

‘Whatever the payload, whatever the orbit, getting your satellite into space will soon be as easy as booking an airline flight.’

Stratolaunch is also building its own rockets to be launched by the megaplane.   

Led by SpaceX’s former head of propulsion, Jeff Thornburg, the company will test its engines at a NASA facility in Stennis, Mississippi.

It will be big enough to transport multiple satellites or other payloads, and is codenamed Kraken, with the first launch currently planned for 2022.

Customers will be able to use it to get satellites into low Earth orbit for less than $30 million, a competitive price and about half of what SpaceX charges for a launch of its Falcon 9 rocket.

Stratolaunch is designing reusable space planes called ‘Black Ice’ that will take off from the giant plane and go into orbit to launch satellites, while a second version will carry astronauts, but is at least a decade away.

It will be big enough to transport multiple satellites or other payloads, and is codenamed Kraken, with the first launch currently planned for 2022.

Customers will be able to use it to get satellites into low Earth orbit for less than $30 million, a competitive price and about half of what SpaceX charges for a launch of its Falcon 9 rocket.

Stratolaunch is designing reusable space planes called ‘Black Ice’ that will take off from the giant plane and go into orbit to launch satellites, while a second version will carry astronauts, but is at least a decade away

At the 34th Space Symposium in Colorado earlier this year, Stratolaunch revealed that it hoping to conduct the monster plane’s first flight this summer.

It has already gone through two taxi tests in the past few months, with top speeds if 28mph (41km/h) and 46mph (74km/h).

The plane still has to go through three more taxi tests before it can fly, the company said. 

According to Engadget, Stratolaunch has to reach taxi speeds up to 80mph (128km/h) and then 138mph (222km/h) during its next tests.

For comparison, typical jetliners have to go as fast as 150 to 180 mph to take off (241km/h to 190km/h).