The aircraft that managed to break more than 200 records such as the longest length ever (84 m), the largest wingspan (89 m), the maximum take-off weight (640 tons)

Mryia destroyed Ukraina Russia
@DAlperovitch on Twitter, CC BY-SA 4.0

In the early days of the recent Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the single Antonov An-225 Mriya, the largest aircraft ever to enter service, was severely damaged during a Russian bombardment of Kiev. Let’s find out its history.


# Cold War and Space Race

Race to Space USA Russia
Credits: pixabay

After the Second World War, the United States and the Soviet Union started the so-called Cold War, that is a close opposition on political, ideological and military levels which in practice resulted mainly in espionage and propaganda operations.

The initiatives launched by both parties in the aerospace sector belonged to both categories. On the one hand, in fact, the results obtained in this field could be used to give prestige and advertise one’s economic and technological power, on the other hand they could lead to the creation of tools to act against the opponent, for example with spy satellites.

While the first goals were achieved by the Soviets, such as the first animals, humans and artificial satellites in orbit, the Americans succeeded in the feat that caused the greatest sensation and remained in history, namely the landing and the walk of some astronauts on the Moon in 1969.

# The birth of the Mriya

Mryia in Paris
Credits: MASTER SGT. DAVE CASEY, Wikimedia

From the early 1970s, the United States gained a strategic advantage in the space field over the Soviet Union, which continually found itself chasing technical innovations developed overseas. Among these were the Space Shuttle and the Saturn V rocket. In an attempt to equalize the latter, Soviet scientists began developing the Energy launch rocket project.

The components of the rocket required the construction of a new transport aircraft suitable for the company which was baptized Mriya, a dream in Ukrainian. Thus it was that at the end of 1988 the Antonov An-225 made its first flight. Its official presentation at the Paris International Air and Space Show in June 1989 was striking and its technical characteristics astound experts in the sector. It was also used to carry the Buran, the Soviet Space Shuttle, above it.

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1990, the space program was halted and the An-225 put to rest.

# The excellence of the Antonov An-225

Mryia airplane
Credits: pixabay

In the 90s the Soviet government decided to create income through its military resources and began to use some aircraft of its fleet for cargo transport through Antonov Airlines based in Kiev and operational base in London.

The commercial initiative worked and soon the planes available were no longer enough to meet the requests. It was therefore decided to reactivate the An-225 Mriya and bring it back into business with commercial functions from 2001. The quality of the Soviet aircraft was also testified by the use of the same by the United States Government, as when it transported 800 tons of equipment. addressed to American troops in Iraq.

In its operational history this aircraft recorded over 200 records such as the longest length ever (84 m), the largest wingspan (89 m), the maximum take-off weight (640 tons).

Unfortunately, the only existing Mryia was badly damaged during the Russian bombing of Kiev in 2022.