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Saturday, April 13, 2019

The aircraft's wingspan measures 385 feet -- wider than any airplane on the planet. From tip to tail, it's 238 feet long. It weighs half a million pounds. It's so big, it has two cockpits, one in each fuselage (but only one is used to fly the plane.) The hope is this massive craft will make space flight less expensive.




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Branson's Virgin 747-400 is on the same tack. If this method takes off Wernher Von Braun's smoky launch pads can slip into history.

#1 | Posted by LesWit at 2019-04-13 10:59 PM | Reply

If this method takes off Wernher Von Braun's smoky launch pads can slip into history.

#1 | Posted by LesWit

Can this method replace heavy launch capabilities?

#2 | Posted by jpw at 2019-04-13 11:32 PM | Reply


Says here it can haul a "550,000 lb (250 t) payload. With a Pegasus II, it could deliver up to 13,500 lb"


Go, Burt Rutan (founder and chief developer at Scaled Composites, the same folks who brought us Virgin Galactic's revolutionary airships.

BTW, SpaceX's Falcon Heavy launch and successful landing of the main engine and both boosters was most impressive too

#3 | Posted by AMERICANUNITY at 2019-04-14 04:32 AM | Reply

The Arabsat satellite launched by the Falcon Heavy was 10,600 lbs, so it looks like the answer as to whether or not the Stratolauncher could put that in orbit is no. SpaceX was in contention with a variant of their Falcon 9 (approx. 1 million lbs), but it couldn't have put the Arabsat satellite into the orbit SpaceX achieved. That took the Falcon Heavy. I read Stratolauncher at some point decided to go in house with their own delivery system. Guess we'll just have to see what that is and what the actual payload capacity will be.

#4 | Posted by AMERICANUNITY at 2019-04-14 04:53 AM | Reply

John T. Conover is going to be pissed.

#5 | Posted by TaoWarrior at 2019-04-14 07:05 AM | Reply

I read Stratolauncher at some point decided to go in house with their own delivery system.


In house work was halted in January 2019.

#6 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2019-04-14 09:53 AM | Reply

It's a little strange. They evaluated 70 proposals. They went in house, they cancelled in house. They're using Pegasus II in the short term. It was a huge simplification of the original Pegasus design, reducing a 3 or 4 stage liquid fuel/cryo setup with a 2 stage solid fuel booster.

It was shelved by its constructors because it still did not meet cost goals. There was another plan to use an Oribtal ATK rocket that doesn't seem to exist. It would have been twice the length of Pegasus and boosted a manned Dream Chaser for ISS missions. Orbital ATK doesn't exist anymore, it was bought out by Grumman.

#7 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2019-04-14 11:05 AM | Reply

May eventually turn out as 'useful' as the Spruce Goose was; time will tell.

#8 | Posted by MSgt at 2019-04-14 01:43 PM | Reply


I haven't been following or as interested in the Stratolauncher program as say, Virgin Galactic's/Burt Rutan's groundbreaking efforts, or the incredible, Buck Rogers-level SpaceX developments.

Looks like whatever rocket Stratolauncher ends up using will be able to put satellites in lower earth orbit, but it'll still take a rocket the size of Falcon Heavy to get them way up there. Orbital velocity considerations and all ...

BTW, check out the Falcon Heavy launch/landings (linked above) if you haven't already. Just wow.

#9 | Posted by AMERICANUNITY at 2019-04-14 02:53 PM | Reply

Headline fail!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"We finally did it," said Stratolaunch Systems CEO Jean Floyd at a news conference from the hangar at Mojave Air & Space Port. "It was an emotional moment to watch this bird take flight."

#10 | Posted by Sniper at 2019-04-14 03:04 PM | Reply

Using an aircraft platform to launch you get 5% more deltaV for the same mass as a ground launched rocket. It will be very interesting to see if SpaceX can get a Dragon stage 1 core refurbished for a price that can compete with a desert based airframe using just 6 P&W turbines for these smaller payloads. It's running on common airliner engines, it will be very tough to beat economically for a chemical rocket stage 1.

The catch is it doesn't scale up for heavy payloads. You could argue though that since most payloads are light that doesn't really matter.

#11 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2019-04-14 04:21 PM | Reply

It's all very interesting. With the advent of companies launching dozens of smaller satellites for specific uses like satellite based broadband, it offers another option. If they ever get a rocket under that big old thing ...

This video of a father and his young son watching the flight was pretty neat:


#12 | Posted by AMERICANUNITY at 2019-04-14 04:38 PM | Reply

It works great.. in Kerbal..

#13 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2019-04-14 04:44 PM | Reply

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