Take two used Boeing 747s, pull off all the engines, strap six of them to a pair of custom-built composite hulls and you've got – well, the world's biggest and most eye-catching airplane.
It looks like something out of Thunderbirds, goes by the name Stratolaunch and is being built by Paul Allen, the multi-billionaire who co-founded Microsoft alongside Bill Gates.
Allen's plan for the Stratolaunch is to sling a payload between the hulls and their triple-engine wings, fly this 'FrankenJumbo' jet up to a conventional cruising altitude of 30,000 feet and then ignite the payload rocket to carry compact low-cost satellites into low-earth orbit.
With a wingspan of 380 feet (115 metres) – longer than a soccer field – the Stratolaunch would easily dwarf even the 225 feet (68 metre) span of Boeing's latest 747-8.
The 590 tonne 'aerosuarus rex' is almost halfway to completion, with its first flight slated for 2016 ahead of a commercial launch by 2018.
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