A HIGH-POWER TEAM of space and industry experts has come together to propose a radical new way of getting into orbit. Radical in size, that is, if not in overall concept.
The Stratolaunch project would see a huge carrier aircraft twice the size of a Boeing 747, carry a large rocket slung under its mid-section. The whole “stack” would take off like a normal aircraft and climb to altitude, whereupon the rocket would drop away, ignite its engines and shoot into orbit.
The carrier aircraft will be largest aircraft ever flown.
It’s a scaled up version of the system to be used by Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.
The Stratolaunch team is led by four famous individuals, prime among them being entrepreneur Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft. There’s also Mike Griffin, former head of NASA; Elon Musk, co-founder of PayPal and founder of the SpaceX rocket company; and Burt Rutan, the famed aeronautical designer who designed and built SpaceShipOne and the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo.
More information: Stratolaunch web site
Story by Jonathan Nally. Graphics courtesy Stratolaunch.
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