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Stratolaunch Systems Corporation is an American space transportation project. With its corporate headquarters it is located in Seattle, Washington. The project was officially announced in December 2011 by Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen and Scaled Composites founder Burt Rutan, which is developing an air-launch platform to make access to space more convenient, reliable, and routine. “We believe that normalizing access to low Earth orbit (LEO) has the potential to redefine our lives by creating more opportunities for commercial, philanthropic and governmental organizations to collect rich and actionable data and drive advancements in science, research, and technology from space,” says www.stratolaunch.com.
The project is a mobile launch system with three main mechanisms;
- A carrier aircraft being built by Scaled Composites
- A multi-stage payload “launch vehicle” which would be launched at high altitude into space from under the carrier aircraft
- A mating and integration system by Dynetics.
The first test flights are scheduled to start in 2019, with a goal of a commercial launch by 2020.
Dynetics actually began work in early 2010 and had approximately 40 employees working on the project as of December 2011.
Stratolaunch was declared that it is planned to launch vehicle options in 2014 over a range of satellite sizes, and that some development work on the Orbital launch vehicle has been slowed down to focus on completion of the carrier aircraft.
“Stratolaunch will be the first air-launch platform of this scale and will rank among the largest aircraft in history – its wingspan alone will stretch the length of a football field. Built primarily of strong yet light carbon fiber and powered by six 747 engines, Stratolaunch will be able to carry up to 550,000 pounds of payload and offer its customers a consistent, flexible and viable alternative to traditional ground-launched rockets.”
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