The Antonov An-225 Mriya used to be the world’s largest plane. Built in 1988 for the Soviet space program to transport its Buran shuttle, it was 275 feet long (84 m) from nose to tail and had a wingspan of 290 feet (88.4 m). What set the AN-225 apart from other large hauling aircraft like the C5 Galaxy was just how much it could haul. Its six massive turbofan engines and enormous wingspan let the Mriya take 253 tonnes airborne in 2001, setting a world record. The An-225 would continue to set records throughout its life, such as hauling the world's longest object airborne (a wind turbine blade) in 2010, and hosting the world's highest art exhibit in 2012 for Ukrainian artists.
Unfortunately, the Antonov An-225 was one of the first victims of the war in Ukraine. Stored in a hangar at Antonov Airport, Russian forces set the plane ablaze at some point during their ill-fated attack. Although the Russians were driven off, Ukrainian forces found Mirya burnt to a crisp and covered in bullet holes.
Ukraine has promised that the An-225 would be rebuilt, first, suggesting Russia would foot the bill for restoring the original Mriya, and then settling on a more realistic plan to finish the second An-225 airframe that was never completed when the Soviet Union collapsed. Antonov has estimated it'll take around $500 million to complete the second An-225, which is a hefty price tag in the middle of a war.
Thankfully, we have Microsoft Flight Simulator. In partnership with Antonov, Microsoft Flight Simulator will add the Antonov An-225 Mriya to the game as paid DLC, with "all proceeds going to Antonov/Ukraine," according to developer IniBuilds (via Kotaku). The DLC is estimated to cost $20.00, and the hope is to have it done by February 27, the anniversary of Mriya's demise.
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