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Stratolaunch Systems is a space
transportation venture specializing in air launch to orbit.
Stratolaunch Systems to build the largest aircraft ever
Noted for having begun the space
tourist era with SpaceShip One in 2004, Paul Allen and Burt Rutan
have joined forces once again to develop an air-launched space
transportation system capable of handling SpaceX Falcon 9 class
launch vehicles and above. Rutan's Scaled Composites has been sold
to Northrop Grumman but the team is back with an idea for a
massive super-lifter with a 385 ft wing space and a gross weight
of 1.2 million lb (544,000 kg). The aircraft would be powered by
six 60,000 lb thrust engines similar to those fitted to the Boeing
747-400 and adopt that aircraft's flight deck and landing gear.
Fabricated from composites, it would
lift the terminal stage and payload to altitude where the rocket
stage would be released to accelerate the payload to orbit. Aiming
to significantly reduce the cost of launching satellites,
Stratolaunch is working with SpaceX to develop a two-stage Falcon
9 derivative designated designated Falcon 5 or 6 and aims fgor a
13,500 lb to low earth orbit capability.
* The Stratolaunch project marks the next step in space travel
that began with the development of SpaceShip One, the first
privately funded manned spacecraft to fly beyond the earth’s
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Updated: Thursday 15th, August, 2013
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