The machine was based on the An-124 Ruslan aircraft, lengthening the fuselage by 14.9 m and redesigning the tail. The double tailtail was to enable flights with the keel-attached Buran (a single vertical stabilizer would be in the aerodynamic "shadow" of the shuttle and would not do its job). The wings are also from Ruslan, only in the middle with two other engines identical to those of the An-124, a new, wider center wing was placed, increasing the wingspan by 15.1 m. The prototype made its maiden flight on 21 December. , 1988. On March 22, 1989, he set 106 world records during a three-hour flight. On June 16, 2004, he made a flight from Prague to Tashkent with the largest commercial cargo weighing 247 tons. In 2009, the aircraft carried a power station generator weighing 189 tons and measuring 16 x 4 m from Germany to Armenia - this is the largest airborne object.