Paul Allen's Stratolaunch moves towards developing its own launch vehicle

By: Theo Nichols

November 30, 2017

Stratolaunch aircraft, Credit: Stratolaunch Systems

The manufacturer of the biggest aircraft in the world wants to develop its own launch vehicle to blast satellites into space. According to SpaceNews, Stratolaunch has signed an agreement with NASA to conduct propulsion tests at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. According to a document detailing Stratolaunch’s agreement with NASA, on May 31, 2018 Stratolaunch’s test materials will be delivered to Stennis where the test launch system will be designed, fabricated, and installed by June 30, 2018. By the end of 2018, the tests at Stennis should be complete.

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Stratolaunch is a new aerospace company funded by billionaire Paul Allen that plans to launch satellites into space from the Stratolaunch aircraft, the largest airplane in the world. Stratolaunch has partnered with Orbital ATK to air-launch payloads from a Pegasus XL rocket, which is currently used by Orbital ATK for air launches from a modified L-1011 Tri-Star.

With the recently disclosed agreement with NASA for propulsion testing, it appears that Stratolaunch is moving ahead with the development of its own launch vehicle. However, the company has been mum on the details of a potential booster.

While the Stratolaunch aircraft has recently begun testing, the first launch of a Pegasus XL rocket is expected in 2019.

stratolaunch nasa

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