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DocM

StratoLaunch: WOW!

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Gawd, this could be spectacular!!

stratolaunch.jpg

Enter: StratoLaunch, a cooperative venture of major hitters

Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft

Burt Rutan, retired from Scaled Composites

Scaled Composites (SS1 & 2, WhiteKnight 1 & 2)

SpaceX

Dynetics (aerospace integrators)

Essentially a huge launch mothership, the largest aircraft ever flown, with a 115 meter wingspan (!!) and 6 engines from a 747, and a horizontally launched 2 stage launcher built by SpaceX. Wow, just WOW!!

http://www.stratolaunch.com/

Presser:

STRATOLAUNCH SYSTEMS : COMPANY NEWS

Press Conference:

Paul G. Allen Announces Revolution in Space Transportation Stratolaunch System to bring safer, less expensive, missions

SEATTLE, WA, Dec 13, 2011

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Howard Hughes lives ?

I guess it's cool, but it seems like there would be better ways to launch into space. Also seems a bit reverse, a plane to launch a rocket into space :)

We need huge vacuum tube mag rail launchers built into mountains. That would be cool.

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It's actually very smart - the plane is a flyback, reusable first stage, and by the time the Falcon 4/5 (a Falcon 9 with just 4 or 5 engines) is launched it's above most of the atmosphere so drag is reduced. It can also do cargo or crew Dragon launches.

Promo video

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Aviation Week article....

13.5 metric to low Earth orbit

747-400 engines, flight deck, landing gear & systems.

Falcon 9 shell with 5 or 6 engines (conflicts with earlirr data) and wings

Falcon will use a feathered flight profile like SpaceShipOne/SpaceShipTwo - the wings will tip up to glide the stage down for recovery.

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Correction on the loft to orbit: 13,500 lb/6.14 MT

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Burt Rutan is genius when it comes to this stuff. Look what he did with Space Ship One. If we're ever going back to the moon and a manned mission to Mars it'll be privateers like Rutan that get us there.

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News conference with Paul Allen, Burt Rutan, Mike Griffin etc.

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sweet Doc...you and your realism...this ain't a wow machine. this is a wow machine:

Image-of-aldebaran-spacecraft.jpg

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Size comparison image attached to show how huge the StratoLaunch carrier aircraft will be. Note the itty-bitty human sized speck in the lower right corner. Yikes!

People in the space community are already taking about carrying (and neoadorable will love this ;) ) a scaled to fit single stage to orbit (SSTO) spaceplane similar to NASA's canceled Venture Star under that big ass wing.

post-347280-0-76240300-1323892401_thumb.

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heh heh once more you make my day Doc, now i officially like this boat! she's a bigun! is that a 747 i spy on the left side? well, if this ship can be built, i'll be the first in line to watch the first flight. and technically the shuttle she'll carry won't be SSTO, right? i mean the Strato is already one stage. but if they can help me loft my Valkyrie shuttle and prove that she works, that'll be beyond awesome!

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Yeah, that blue plane to the left f the ISS is a 747 which has a 212 ft wingspan. An Airbus A380 is 262 ft. An Antonov 225 is 290 ft. The Spruce Goose was 320 ft. The Strato is 385 ft.

In aerospace the Stato would count as a half stage, or colloquially a "zeroth" stage (appropriated from Asimov's post-3 Laws 'zeroth' Law of Robotics) so the spaceplane would technically be a 1.5 STO.

Still pretty good, but remember the Venture Star was designed to be an SSTO.

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thanks for the explanation! if this means the Venture Star can come back, i'll take 1.5 stages to orbit...of course if BOTH of these ladies can fly, the Starto and the VS, i'll be truly a happy camper!

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Both Scaled Composites (now part of Northrop Grumman) and major defense contractor BAE Systems are in on the act -

http://www.parabolicarc.com/2012/02/19/stratolaunch-accepts-first-747-for-new-aircraft/

Stratolaunch Accepts First 747 for New Launch Aircraft

HUNTSVILLE, AL, February 15, 2012 (Stratolaunch PR) - Today Stratolaunch systems closed on purchase of the first of two Boeing 747-400 aircraft that are being purchased from United Airlines.

Stratolaunch contractor Scaled Composites of Mojave California with support from their subcontractor BAE Systems has developed a complete plan for how the engines, landing gear, hydraulics and other subsystem components of these aircraft will be disassembled and reintegrated into a custom composite aircraft to be built by Scaled Composites in Stratolaunch

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There's is something though.

Aren't rockets structurally constructed to always be standing or laying down with support all the way along it's length? This system seems like it would require rockets with much stronger inner support able to be held from a rather small area and not deform under the weight and stress of flight.

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The Falcon 4/5 used for this will be built for horizontal launch. This mod will be easier to do with Falcon as SpaceX uses a monocoque structure and not the usual skin & tank construction. Besides load adaptation it lets them shorten or lengthen the tankage at will and even change the core diameter to a larger one by reprogramming the metal rollers that bend the core segments before they're friction stir welded together. An example of this core modding capability will be Falxon Heavy which will use two regular length Falcon 9 cores for the side boosters and one 'stretch' core in the center.

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Flight....

Stratolaunch nears conclusion of systems design review

Stratolaunch is to complete the systems design review (SDR) of its new launch system "in the next couple of months".

That is the timeframe set out by Jim Halsell, director of Stratolaunch systems at Dynetics, which has been contracted to design the technical integration and to mate and demate procedures and systems.

"We are on the cusp of doing the systems design review, and we're moving toward a preliminary design review [PDR]," said Halsell. "Between those two, the SDR and the PDR, we will lock down the details of the technical approach, the outer mold lines of all the systems. It's the grunt early work of designing a complex system."

Major system trades and exact specifications, including information crucial to operation such as maximum gross take-off weight and required runway length, will not be finalised until the PDR.

Disclosed in December 2011, the ambitious Stratolaunch system involves a massive Scaled Composites-built aircraft with a SpaceX-built rocket suspended between twin fuselages. The system will launch payloads of up to 6,100kg (13,500lb) in weight and 5m (16.4ft) in diameter into low Earth orbit (LEO). Although Stratolaunch eventually hopes to launch people into orbit and will build to strict human spaceflight standards, design efforts are on hold while the focus is on building and testing the launch system.

Preliminary construction has begun on the assembly facility in Mojave, California, where the aircraft will be built and tested. Construction of a wing spar and wing box for test purposes has also begun, with actual operational examples scheduled for completion in the summer.

Scaled Composites has selected two ex-United Airlines Boeing 747-400s, from which the company will take the Pratt & Whitney 4056 engines, hydraulic system, electrical systems, landing gear and windshields, among other major components.

"While the 747-400 wasn't the only airplane [available], it quickly became apparent that it was a good choice, and that a lot of the systems were designed for the take-off and landing weights in the family of what we're talking about here," said Halsell. "The hydraulic systems, the electrical systems, all of them had the kind of capacity or greater than what we would need for our application."

The first rocket launch is scheduled for 2016; no customers have yet stepped forward, but Stratolaunch hopes to be competitive in the light-to-medium satellite market, a growing market in a niche inhabited by the SpaceX Falcon 1, Boeing Delta II and Orbital Sciences Antares launch vehicles. Production of both the Falcon 1 and Delta II have ceased, although options remain for restarting production, and the Antares has yet to complete its first launch, scheduled for June 2012.

Although Stratolaunch officials have repeatedly mentioned plans to operate from the NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC) runway, one of the longest and widest runways in the world, there has as yet been no formal agreement between Stratolaunch and facility operator Space Florida.

Operating from the KSC runway would enable Stratolaunch to fly south, closer to the equator, allowing greater payload and launch azimuth flexibility. Launching to the east over the Atlantic Ocean would take advantage of the Earth's rotation, allowing additional advantages.

Only a single aircraft will be produced, but Stratolaunch is open to building more aircraft. "Certainly our technical focus right now is making it work for a launch platform," said Halsell. "However, it is not beyond a stretch of the imagination, if a customer were to come to us and say, 'I need an externally carried large payload of significant mass and also volume requirements,' we would certainly value the opportunity to take a swing at satisfying those requirements."

According to Stratolaunch chief executive Gary Wentz, a larger version of the aircraft is feasible for launching larger rockets or carrying outsize cargo. "Based on physics and aerodynamics, scaling up is feasible," he said. "Material selection and design of the wing structure will have a great effect. Also, growing the wing to be much longer presents operational issues with runway selection."

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Good news though very preliminary. If they can make her even bigger it would be good for all the bulky oversized stuff well need when building thoseLa Grange outposts

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I'd love to see that bird fly, just once. A sight to behold.

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heh heh you said monocoque...i prefer unibody if you don't mind. And the more ways we have to get to orbit, the better. To say I'm a fan of this one would be a stretch, its payload is too small!

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They're already talking this as Phase I with an even larger mothership to come. Believe me, THAT got tongues wagging on the adronautics sites.

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More Stratolaunch construction on a ginormous scale at Mojave Spaceport.

birdzillahangar1042012c.jpg

More....

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cool update and pic, thanks Doc! so this is moving forward as planned...i'm glad to hear that.

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The Stratolaunch production facility is open for business -

http://stratolaunch.com/news.html

MOJAVE, CALIF., October 10, 2012 - The Stratolaunch Systems Corporation, a Paul G. Allen project, announced the opening of their production facility at the Mojave Air and Space Port. The energy efficient 88,000 square foot facility will be used to construct the composite sections of the wing and fuselage sections which will be assembled into the carrier aircraft. The carrier aircraft will be used to position the rocket to its launch point. This facility paves the way forward for Stratolaunch to commence manufacturing of the numerous wing and fuselage assemblies within the calendar year. This is one of two facilities that will be built in Mojave to construct the carrier aircraft. The other facility, currently under construction, will house the carrier aircraft during assembly and test. "Today is a significant milestone in our program. We are very excited to open the production facility and commence the major construction activities related to the carrier aircraft. We are very proud of the work that has been done by Wallace and Smith General Contractors. They completed this facility 2 months ahead of schedule and on budget. We look forward to increasing the talented workforce of Scaled Composites in the Antelope Valley to commence this major construction effort", said Gary Wentz, President and CEO.

news_Oct10b_12.jpg

news_Oct10c_12.jpg

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Congrats!!!!!!

This is the mega-hanger Jeff Bezos was looking for in those mid to late 90's radio commercials, remember? heh heh now I guess he doesn't need it anymore so time to build MONSTER SPACEPLANES!

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http://www.parabolicarc.com/2013/02/20/stratolaunch-systems-opens-hangar-in-mojave/

Stratolaunch Systems Opens Hangar in Mojave

Stratolaunch Systems completed work on its large hangar at the Mojave Air and Space Port last Wednesday, opening it up for employees to begin to occupy, spaceport CEO Stu Witt said on Tuesday.

The hangar is designed to accommodate the rocket company

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