Friday, December 16, 2011
Stratolaunch Systems is a space transportation venture specializing in air launch to orbit, with its corporate headquarters located in Huntsville, Alabama. It was founded in 2011 by Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen and Scaled Composites founder Burt Rutan, who had previously collaborated on the creation of SpaceShipOne. The newly envisioned launch system will use similar components to that of Virgin Galactic though it will be made for orbital launch instead of sub-orbital. The start up will build a mobile launch system with three primary components; a carrier aircraft to be built by Scaled Composites, a multi-stage launch vehicle built by Space Exploration Technologies, and a mating and integration system to be built by Dynetics.
Allen and Rutan stated that the carrier aircraft would have a wingspan of 385 feet (117 m), making it the largest wingspan of a aircraft ever to fly, and will weigh in at over 1,200,000 pounds (540,000 kg). The aircraft will be powered by 6 × 46,000-66,500lb thrust range Turbine Engines planned to be sourced from a Boeing 747 engines and other components from the 400-series.
A Falcon-derivative two-stage liquid-fueled air-launched launch vehicle will be developed by SpaceX. The launch vehicle will have a launch mass of approximately 220,000 kilograms (490,000 lb) and will have the goal of inserting a 6,100 kilograms (13,000 lb) payload into low Earth orbit. (read more) (video clip) (stratolaunch)