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Author Topic:   Stratolaunch Systems air launch to orbit
Robert Pearlman

Posts: 41451
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 12-13-2011 12:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Stratolaunch Systems release
Paul G. Allen Announces Revolution in Space Transportation Stratolaunch System to bring safer, less expensive, missions

Entrepreneur and philanthropist Paul G. Allen announced today (Dec. 13, 2011) that he and aerospace pioneer Burt Rutan have reunited to develop the next generation of space travel.

Allen and Rutan, whose SpaceShipOne was the first privately-funded, manned rocket ship to fly beyond earth's atmosphere, are developing a revolutionary new approach to space transportation: an air-launch system to provide orbital access to space with greater safety, cost effectiveness and flexibility.

The space flight revolution Allen and Rutan pioneered in 2004 with SpaceShipOne now enters a new era. Only months after the last space shuttle flight closed an important chapter in spaceflight, Allen is stepping in with an ambitious effort to continue America's drive for space.

"I have long dreamed about taking the next big step in private space flight after the success of SpaceShipOne – to offer a flexible, orbital space delivery system," Allen said. "We are at the dawn of radical change in the space launch industry."

"Stratolaunch Systems is pioneering an innovative solution that will revolutionize space travel."

Allen's company, Stratolaunch Systems, will build a mobile launch system with three primary components:

  • A carrier aircraft, developed by Scaled Composites, the aircraft manufacturer and assembler founded by Rutan. It will be the largest aircraft ever flown.
  • A multi-stage booster, manufactured by Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies;
  • A state-of-the-art mating and integration system allowing the carrier aircraft to safely carry a booster weighing up to 490,000 pounds. It will be built by Dynetics, a leader in the field of aerospace engineering.

Stratolaunch Systems will bring airport-like operations to the launch of commercial and government payloads and, eventually, human missions. Plans call for a first flight within five years.

The air-launch-to-orbit system will mean lower costs, greater safety, and more flexibility and responsiveness than is possible today with ground-based systems. Stratolaunch's quick turnaround between launches will enable new orbital missions as well as break the logjam of missions queued up for launch facilities and a chance at space.

Rutan, who has joined Stratolaunch Systems as a board member, said that he was thrilled to be back working with Allen. "Paul and I pioneered private space travel with SpaceShipOne, which led to Virgin Galactic's commercial suborbital SpaceShipTwo program. Now, we will have the opportunity to extend that capability to orbit and beyond."

"Paul has proven himself a visionary with the will, commitment and courage to continue pushing the boundaries of space technology. We are well aware of the challenges ahead, but we have put together an incredible research team that will draw inspiration from Paul's vision," Rutan said.

To lead the Stratolaunch Systems team, Allen picked a veteran NASA official with years of experience in engineering, management and human spaceflight. Stratolaunch Systems CEO and President Gary Wentz, a former chief engineer at NASA, said the system's design will revolutionize space travel.

Former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin, also a Stratolaunch board member, joined Allen and Rutan at a press conference in Seattle to announce the project. "We believe this technology has the potential to someday make spaceflight routine by removing many of the constraints associated with ground launched rockets," Griffin said. "Our system will also provide the flexibility to launch from a large variety of locations."

The Stratolaunch system will eventually have the capability to launch people into low earth orbit. But the company is taking a building block approach in development of the launch aircraft and booster, with initial efforts focused on unmanned payloads. Human flights will follow, after safety, reliability and operability are demonstrated.

The carrier aircraft will operate from a large airport/spaceport, such as Kennedy Space Center, and will be able to fly up to 1,300 nautical miles to the payload's launch point.

It will use six 747 engines, have a gross weight of more than 1.2 million pounds and a wingspan of more than 380 feet. For takeoff and landing, it will require a runway 12,000 feet long. Systems onboard the launch aircraft will conduct the countdown and firing of the booster and will monitor the health of the orbital payload.

The plane will be built in a Stratolaunch hangar which will soon be under construction at the Mojave Air and Space Port. It will be near where Scaled Composites built SpaceShipOne which won Allen and Scaled Composites the $10-million Ansari X Prize in 2004 after three successful sub-orbital flights. Scaled Composites is a wholly owned subsidiary of Northrop Grumman.

"Scaled is all about achieving milestones and pursuing breakthroughs and this project offers both – building the largest airplane in the world, and achieving the manufacturing breakthroughs that will enable Scaled to accomplish it. We're thrilled to be a part of this development program," Doug Shane, Scaled Composites' president, said. "We anticipate significant hiring of engineering, manufacturing and support staff in the near and medium term."

The multi-stage booster will be manufactured by California-based Space Exploration Technologies, one of the world's preeminent space transportation companies.

"Paul Allen and Burt Rutan helped generate enormous interest in space with White Knight and SpaceShipOne," Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX president, said. "There was no way we weren't going to be involved in their next great endeavor. We are very excited."

Dynetics will provide the mating and integration system and the systems engineering, integration, test and operations support for the entire air-launch system. The mating and integration system will be manufactured in Huntsville, Alabama in Dynetics' new 226,500 sq. foot prototyping facility. Dynetics has been a leader in aerospace engineering since 1974.

"We are excited to play such a major role on this system. This is an ambitious project unlike any that has been undertaken and I am confident the Stratolaunch team has the experience and capabilities to accomplish the mission," said Dynetics Executive Vice President and Stratolaunch Board Member David King.

Stratolaunch Systems corporate headquarters is located in Huntsville, Alabama. Today's announcement was the first public word that Allen and Rutan were back in the space business. But space has long been on Allen's mind.

In the close of his memoir, Idea Man, published earlier this year, he hinted at his plans, writing that he was "considering a new initiative with that magical contraption I never wearied of sketching as a boy: the rocket ship."

See here to discuss Statolaunch Systems and its air-launch-to-orbit system.

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 41451
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 06-03-2013 12:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Stratolaunch Systems release
Stratolaunch Taps Orbital Sciences As Rocket System Provider

Leading space technology company will design, build and operate redesigned air-launch rocket system

Stratolaunch Systems today announced that space technology leader Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB) will join its team to develop, build and operate the redesigned Stratolaunch air-launch rocket system. Orbital's involvement is key in realizing Stratolaunch System's vision to provide orbital access with greater safety, cost-effectiveness and flexibility.

"Selecting Orbital to take on this important role represents a major step forward in our bold endeavor to develop a revolutionary air-launch system," said Gary L. Wentz, CEO and President of Stratolaunch. "Orbital is one of the most respected and reliable providers of space and rocket systems. For over 30 years, Orbital has compiled a record of success few companies in the industry can match. We're pleased to welcome Orbital to our team."

The agreement was finalized after a research period in which Stratolaunch charged Orbital with developing a comprehensive operational concept for its air-launch system, including the unique design of the rocket and operational processes and procedures that will need to be in place to operate the system. Going forward, Orbital will be responsible for the program's overall systems engineering, as well as the development, production, integration, test, and operations of the air-launch vehicle (ALV) and related support systems.

"Stratolaunch is introducing an innovative solution unlike anything ever before attempted, with convenient, airport-like operations to launch commercial and government payloads, and eventually, human missions," Wentz added. "With the rocket design and operational methodology well understood, we are now positioned to bring this vision to fruition."

The Stratolaunch ALV system will be capable of launching government and commercial payloads up to 15,000 lbs. range to low-Earth orbit (LEO) and smaller payloads to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).

Due to its air-launch capability, the system is designed for maximum operational flexibility and payload delivery from multiple sites. It also offers the ability to minimize or avoid mission constraints that affect traditional ground-launch operations, such as certain aspects of range availability or inclement weather conditions. Stratolaunch is on track for carrier aircraft flight testing by 2016.

"By selecting Orbital as a key member of its team, Stratolaunch has employed the world's expert in air- launch systems to orbit, having pioneered the small-class Pegasus rocket over 20 years ago, which, together with derivative air-launch vehicles, have carried out over 50 missions for government and commercial customers," said Frank Culbertson, Orbital's Executive Vice President and General Manager of its Advanced Programs Group. "We have assembled a first-class team of professionals, with decades of experience, and we are ready to support the program as it moves from concept into design and production."

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 41451
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 05-31-2017 02:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Stratolaunch release
Stratolaunch Aircraft Makes First Rollout To Begin Fueling Tests

We're excited to announce that Stratolaunch aircraft has reached a major milestone in its journey toward providing convenient, reliable, and routine access to low Earth orbit. Today, we're moving the Stratolaunch aircraft out of the hangar – for the first time ever – to conduct aircraft fueling tests. This marks the completion of the initial aircraft construction phase and the beginning of the aircraft ground and flight testing phase.

Over the past few weeks, we have removed the fabrication infrastructure, including the three-story scaffolding surrounding the aircraft, and rested the aircraft's full weight on its 28 wheels for the first time. This was a crucial step in preparing the aircraft for ground testing, engine runs, taxi tests, and ultimately first flight.

Once we achieved weight-on-wheels, it enabled us to weigh the Stratolaunch aircraft for the first time, coming in at approximately 500,000 lbs. That may sound heavy, but remember that the Stratolaunch aircraft is the world's largest plane by wingspan, measuring 385 ft. – by comparison, a National Football League field spans only 360 ft. The aircraft is 238 ft. from nose to tail and stands 50 ft. tall from the ground to the top of the vertical tail.

The Stratolaunch aircraft is designed for a max takeoff weight of 1,300,000 lbs., meaning it's capable of carrying payloads up to approximately 550,000 lbs. As we announced last fall , we will initially launch a single Orbital ATK Pegasus XL vehicle with the capability to launch up to three Pegasus vehicles in a single sortie mission. We have already started preparations for launch vehicle delivery to our Mojave facilities. We're actively exploring a broad spectrum of launch vehicles that will enable us to provide more flexibility to customers.

Over the coming weeks and months, we'll be actively conducting ground and flightline testing at the Mojave Air and Space Port. This is a first-of-its-kind aircraft, so we're going to be diligent throughout testing and continue to prioritize the safety of our pilots, crew and staff. Stratolaunch is on track to perform its first launch demonstration as early as 2019.

This marks a historic step in our work to achieve Paul G. Allen's vision of normalizing access to low Earth orbit. It is proud day for us at Stratolaunch, for our partners at Scaled Composites, and for our founder Paul Allen. We have a lot of exciting activity ahead as we enter the testing process, and we look forward to sharing our progress during the coming months.

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 41451
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 12-18-2017 04:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Scaled Composites release
Scaled Composites Taxis World's Largest Aircraft

Stratolaunch Aircraft Moves Under Its Own Power

This past weekend, the Scaled test team successfully executed a low speed taxi test of the Stratolaunch aircraft. During this initial taxi test, the aircraft moved down the runway under its own power for the first time. These first test points have demonstrated the fundamental ability to control the aircraft speed and direction on the runway.

What is it like to move the world's largest aircraft? Joe Sweat, Project Pilot, commented, "It was a lot less intimidating once we had it out there, in terms of how much runway we take up. From a visual standpoint, we had a lot more room than I was anticipating. Getting the airplane moving under its own power was really interesting – just seeing and feeling how the nose wheel steering reacts and how the brakes respond to the inputs."

We have been working with Stratolaunch for the past five years designing, building, and testing the world's largest aircraft. Paul Allen's mission for Stratolaunch is developing an air launch platform to make access to space more convenient, reliable, and routine.

"Later taxi testing will include faster speeds and more challenging steering and braking tasks, all in preparation for first flight. It was exciting to see this magnificent machine on the runway for the first time!" said Brandon Wood, Test Conductor.

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 41451
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 08-20-2018 03:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Stratolaunch release
Stratolaunch Announces New Launch Vehicles

Family of launch vehicles will begin regular service to orbit in 2020.

Stratolaunch announces today [Aug. 20] its new family of launch vehicles that will enter regular service starting in 2020. The company’s unique air-launch system will use the world’s largest aircraft as a mobile launch platform, capable of deploying launch vehicles that will carry satellites to multiple orbits and inclinations on a single mission. With these new vehicles, Stratolaunch is poised to make access to space convenient, affordable, and routine.

“We are excited to share for the first time some details about the development of our own, proprietary Stratolaunch launch vehicles, with which we will offer a flexible launch capability unlike any other,” said Jean Floyd, Chief Executive Officer at Stratolaunch. “Whatever the payload, whatever the orbit, getting your satellite into space will soon be as easy as booking an airline flight.”

The updated launch offering from Stratolaunch includes the following vehicles:

  • Pegasus: With its existing track record of over 35 successful launches, Pegasus provides dependable access to orbit.

    Capability: 370 kg payload* for a single or triple configuration
    Status: Flight proven, integration and testing ongoing with first flight in 2020

  • Medium Launch Vehicle (MLV): A new medium-class air-launch vehicle optimized for short satellite integration timelines, affordable launch and flexible launch profiles.

    Capability: 3,400 kg payload*
    Status: In development with first flight in 2022

  • Medium Launch Vehicle – Heavy: A three-core MLV variant with capability to deploy heavier payloads to orbit.

    Capability: 6,000 kg payload*
    Status: Early development

  • Space Plane: A fully reusable space plane that enables advanced in-orbit capabilities and cargo return. Initial designs optimized for cargo launch, with a follow-on variant capable of transporting crew.

    Capability: Medium-class payload or crew
    Status: Design study

*Estimated performance for a 400 km circular orbit at 28.5 degrees.

Stratolaunch will be sharing more on these launch vehicles and on our vision for improved access to before the end of 2018.

Robert Pearlman

Posts: 41451
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-13-2019 02:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Stratolaunch release
Stratolaunch Completes Historic First Flight of Aircraft

World's largest aircraft takes to the sky for its test flight over Mojave Desert

Stratolaunch Systems Corporation, successfully completed the first flight of the world's largest all-composite aircraft, the Stratolaunch. With a dual fuselage design and wingspan greater than the length of an the Stratolaunch aircraft took flight at 0658 PDT on April 13, 2019 from the Mojave Air & Space Port. Achieving a maximum speed of 189 miles per hour, the plane flew for 2.5 hours over the Mojave Desert at altitudes up to 17,000 feet. As part of the initial flight, the pilots evaluated aircraft performance and handling qualities before landing successfully back at the Mojave Air and Space Port.

"What a fantastic first flight," said Jean Floyd, CEO of Stratolaunch. "Today's flight furthers our mission to provide a flexible alternative to ground launched systems. We are incredibly proud of the Stratolaunch team, today's flight crew, our partners at Northrup Grumman's Scaled Composites and the Mojave Air and Space Port."

The test team conducted standard aircraft testing exercises. Initial results from today's test points include:

  • Performed a variety of flight control maneuvers to calibrate speed and test flight control systems, including roll doublets, yawing maneuvers, pushovers and pull-ups, and steady heading side slips.

  • Conducted simulated landing approach exercises at a max altitude of 15,000 feet mean sea level.

The Stratolaunch aircraft is a mobile launch platform that will enable airline-style access to space that is convenient, affordable and routine. The reinforced center wing can support multiple launch vehicles, weighing up to a total of 500,000 pounds.

"We all know Paul would have been proud to witness today's historic achievement," said Jody Allen, Chair of Vulcan Inc. and Trustee of the Paul G. Allen Trust. "The aircraft is a remarkable engineering achievement and we congratulate everyone involved."

See here to discuss Statolaunch Systems and its air-launch-to-orbit system.

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