The world’s largest plane could be completed before year’s end at the Mojave Air & Space Port in a new space race to launch satellites at lower cost.

Stratolaunch Systems reports making significant progress on its mammoth craft funded by billionaire Paul Allen to launch satellite-carrying rockets into orbit.

The aircraft – powered by six 747 engines and with a 385-foot wingspan – is 40 percent complete, said Chuck Beames, executive director of Stratolaunch.

“They are working like crazy in Mojave,” said Beames, who spoke to the Business Journal in advance of his appearance at a Colorado space symposium this month.

Stratolaunch was founded in 2011 by Allen as a lower cost, more convenient alternative to ground-launched rockets. But there is plenty of competition.

It is up against Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or Space X, the Hawthorne company founded by billionaire Elon Musk that has developed reusable rockets. Also, Virgin Galactic is developing the LauncherOne rocket in Long Beach to carry small payloads of up to 500 pounds into space, and Generation Orbit Launch Services, in Atlanta, is developing rockets that can be launched from a Gulfstream business jet.

Read the full story in the April 20 edition of the San Fernando Valley Business Journal.