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StratoLaunch: WOW!

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Growled    3,880

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

Me too, Doc. Me too.

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neoadorable    405

when will she finally take off?

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DocM    16,433

The mothership will probanly roll out in late 2014. No word yet on the Orbital Sciences launcher - they have their hands full with getting Antares off the ground.

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DocM    16,433

Major changes in the design of their mothership, which now shows definite signs that Scaled Composites (SS1, SS2, White Knight 1/2, Proteus etc.) has been working on it. Burt Rutan's design legacy continues.

http://www.stratolaunch.com/

newstrato1.jpg

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+Mirumir    5,635

the largest aircraft ever flown

Has it been built yet?

Coz presently this record is being held by the An-225.

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DocM    16,433

Under construction now in Mojave California by a team that includes Scaled Composites, which is now part of Northrop Grumman.

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SALSN    54

When and why did Orbital take over the rocket part from SpaceX?

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DocM    16,433

A while back. SpaceX made changes to the new F9 v1.1 that were incompatable with StratoLaunch's horizontal carry for launch. Being some 45% larger (227 feet), much heavier etc. etc. it wasn't going to handle the side loads and might not even fit. Big SOB the v1.1 is....

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DocM    16,433

Thought it was big before? Try 1,300,000 lbs.

For comparison, a fully loaded Boeing 737-200 weighs 115,000 lbs - just a tad more than this behemoths weigh increase.

http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/stratolaunch-marches-forward-383992/

Stratolaunch marches forward

Stratolaunch is making steady progress on its satellite-launching aircraft design, and intends to reach major milestones "in the summer timeframe," according to CEO Gary Wentz.

On 26 March the company announced finishing the second of two large hangars at Mojave, California, in which the one-off aircraft will largely be assembled. The massive aircraft design, to be the largest ever built, is designed to carry rockets to altitude before launch. Small parts of the wings, including the centre wing spars, are currently in production, with an eye towards full-scale production beginning in several months.

"We're going to press for a critical design review by the end of the year, so we're continuing forward," says Wentz in an interview with Flightglobal.

The aircraft design has undergone a notable change in recent weeks, with concepts showing a significantly lengthened, streamlined front end on both of its two fuselages. Wentz further cites an increase in gross takeoff weight by 100,000lb (45,000kg), to 1.3 million lb. As a result, minor changes were made to the wings and twin fuselages.

"The tails came in a little heavier than we expected, so to move the center of gravity forward on the aircraft we had to extend out the cabin," says Wentz. "I think it was just the early design estimate was lighter, it was multiple factors, the weight, and centre of gravity of the engines and where we placed them resulted in a change to our initial estimate."

The rocket design suffered a setback when contractor SpaceX bowed out due to anticipated production difficulties. It was replaced by competitor Orbital Sciences, which has yet to establish a baseline design. The companies have yet to settle on many major issues, including whether the rocket will be solid- or liquid-fueled, or even whether to build an all-new engine versus adapting an existing design. Discussions are ongoing.

"We're not in a position to talk about the specific configurations at the moment but it's looking very promising," says Wentz "We anticipate within the next few months being able to announce settling a contractwe're really just trying to optimize their concepts, we're looking at solids and liquids."

"As late as last week I saw varied geometric configurations for the [spacecraft's] wings," he adds. The planned rocket will be capable of launching 6,100kg (13,500lb) into orbit, and requires wings to steer the rocket from its horizontal launch position and point it near-vertically towards space.

"Since we don't have a firm proposal from Orbital Sciences yet we're not sure exactly when the preliminary design review (PDR) will fall out for the launch vehicle. We'll conduct a systems design review in April, then we'll press to PDR, I suspect it will be early next year."

slmothernew.jpg

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IsItPluggedIn    1,684

The more I read about this the more I think its just a pipe dream.

The fact that SpaceX dropped out makes me think there is more issues rather than just supply issues.

For the size of it the amount of fuel it would use to get off the ground, then it still has the rocket to go with it, I'm doubting its cost effectiveness compared to Orbital or SpaceX.

However the first steps are usually the most expensive, and the end goal is great. I hope they get it to work, but im not holding my breath.

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HawkMan    5,232

The point in this case is to think of it as a multistage rocket. If tis thing can lift a full size rocket to the stratosphere. That means the rocket only needs to carry the fuel for there on and up, and far less fuel wasted in acceleration. This mans that, if we used rough math, and guesstimate that this part of the trip would consume about half the fuel in the rocket. The rocket can instead carry a payload that 3 or 4 times as big instead of the fuel.

The alternative would be to build a humongous massive rocket that can carry it just the big oversized payload, but also the extra fuel to carry the payload, as well as the extra fuel to carry the extra fuel and the extra fuel to carry the star fuel to carry the extra fuel... It's not really a linear thing, that a 4 kg payload will use 4 times as much fuel as a 1 kg one.

As for how realistic it is in practice... We'll see. I think there are better options, but this cold be a middle ground until we get there. But rockets alone are not going to do. As for spaceX , it's simple design. They designed their rockets to only hold their weight vertically, which makes sense. It's a lot easier to design a rocket that only needs to send the weight down the stack, than one that can be suspended horizontally from the middle and not deform or even be ripped apart. Especially handling take off stress in that position as well.

So yes, it will use a lot of fuel to get off the ground. BUT that's not the point. The point is the payload the rocket can carry now, and how much fuel the rocket needs to use/carry.

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DocM    16,433

Orbital Sciences has yet to choose if their rocket platform will use solid or liquid engines. Solids are heavy as hell, and the big liquid engine they have experience with is the Aerojet AJ26 from their soon to be tested Antares launcher. AN26 is derived from the Russian NK-33, its biggest version is the AJ26-500 (500,000 lbf) and is yet to be built. Big, but there are other options coming.

SpaceX is developing a new engine family called Raptor, a staged combustion methane engine with ~650,000+ lbf of thrust. Because it burns methane at a high specific impulse a Raptor based stage would be lighter. Their engines are also very inexpensive to make and have insanely high throw weights (Merlin 1D = 150:1). That and they have made noises about building a large engine for another company.

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DocM    16,433

Orbital Sciences had a model of their StratoLaunch booster at this years Space Symposium :)

No word yet on specs, engines etc. Probably coming soon....

Orbitalsl1.jpg

Big version....

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HawkMan    5,232

that rocket it a lot bigger than the plane :p

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spudtrooper    335

I can't see this being cheaper.. Maintenance, Hanger & Fuel alone on the launch vehicle is probably exceeding the cost of first stage launch & refurbs on boosters. The break even cost would require a launch frequency that I don't see any of the commercial carriers achieving any time soon.

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HawkMan    5,232

I can't see this being cheaper.. Maintenance, Hanger & Fuel alone on the launch vehicle is probably exceeding the cost of first stage launch & refurbs on boosters. The break even cost would require a launch frequency that I don't see any of the commercial carriers achieving any time soon.

again, not just about cost.

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DocM    16,433

The advantage is that the SL booster can be launched to any orbital plane desired within range of the mothership without the booster doing a dogleg turn, which costs rocket fuel, which costs payload mass.

Want a 36.5? orbital plane but no spaceports are at that latitude? Carry it to that latitude & shoot it at the proper heading.

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DocM    16,433

StratoLaunch has posted their flyer

StratoLaunch.pdf....

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DocM    16,433

New video highlighting the new fuselage design and Orbital Sciences launcher -

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123456789A    4,710

Can this thing do a barrel roll? Doesn't look like it.

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DocM    16,433

Aerospace genius Burt Rutan is involved in designing it, so what do you think? :ninja:

Wouldn't surprise me a bit given the pitch-up & hard turn it has to do as and after it drops the launcher.

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Crisp    3,271

But it just doesn't give off the same excitment of watching the power of a rocket lift-off ;)

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DocM    16,433

ATK = Alliant TechSystems, builder of the space shuttle solid rocket boosters (SRB), the Space Launch System SRB's, military missile technologies, spacecraft systems & structures etc.

In short, StratoLaunch and Orbital Sciences just partnered with an aerospace biggie.

The odds are the Pegasus II's first / stages will be based on the Space Launch System's SRB hardware; composite casings (vs. steel on the shuttle), electronically controlled thrust vectoring vanes (vs. hydraulic on the shuttle), and a new high performance fuel grain and core shape.

http://atk.mediaroom.com/2013-08-13-ATK-Awarded-Contract-by-Orbital-Sciences-to-Support-Stratolaunch-System

ATK Awarded Contract by Orbital Sciences to Support Stratolaunch System

ARLINGTON, Va., Aug. 13, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- ATK (NYSE: ATK) has received a contract from Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB) to provide first and second stage propulsion for the Air Launch Vehicle (ALV) that Orbital is designing and building for Stratolaunch Systems Corporation as part of a revolutionary air-launched space transportation system. The contract from Orbital includes the design, development and flight hardware for initial Stratolaunch missions.

"ATK is pleased to receive this award for the development and production of first and second stage propulsion for the Stratolaunch ALV," said Blake Larson, president of ATK Aerospace Group. "Our innovative propulsion concept combines both proven and state-of-the-art technologies that will provide a high-performing, cost-effective solution for the ALV."

[see more details of Stratolaunch's air launched rocket system at: http://stratolaunch.com/ ]

This new work expands ATK's already strong partnership with Orbital, dating back to the development of Orbital's original air-launched vehicle, Pegasus?, which also uses ATK solid rocket motors for stage propulsion.

"Our design solution for the ALV will take full advantage of ATK's experience with large diameter solid rocket motors, like those built for the Space Shuttle and for the Titan IVB launch vehicle. The stages for ALV will also use high-strength, low-weight graphite composite cases, advanced propellants, and heritage materials from ATK's extensive line of commercial solid rocket motors," said Scott Lehr, vice president and general manager of ATK's Defense and Commercial Division.

"Solid rocket motors use stable propellants and have proven highly reliable in a wide variety of systems. They are highly engineered systems that are designed for simplified operations, and minimize ground support infrastructure requirements," Lehr added.

ATK has manufactured more than 1600 commercial solid rocket motors to date for a wide variety of launch vehicles including Delta II and Delta IV, as well as Orbital's Pegasus?, Taurus?, Minotaur? and Antares?tm space launch vehicles. ATK first entered the commercial launch vehicle market back in 1987 when it developed its first commercial composite motor, the GEM-40, which is still being used today as part of the Delta II launch vehicle. ATK's commercial product line includes GEM, CASTOR?, and Orion solid rocket motors.

About Stratolaunch Systems

Founded in 2011 by philanthropist and entrepreneur Paul G. Allen, Stratolaunch Systems is developing an air-launch system that will revolutionize space transportation by providing orbital access to space at lower costs, with greater safety and more flexibility. The system will allow for maximum operational flexibility and payload delivery from several possible operational sites, while minimizing mission constraints such as range availability and weather.

The system is made up of three primary elements: a carrier aircraft that is being designed by Scaled Composites, a multi-stage rocket system that is being developed by Orbital, and a payload to be delivered into orbit. Initial efforts will focus on unmanned payloads, with human flights following as safety, reliability and operability are demonstrated. Stratolaunch is based in Huntsville, Ala., with assembly facilities in Mojave, Calif. More information about Stratolaunch Systems can be found at http://stratolaunch.com/.

About Orbital

Orbital develops and manufactures small- and medium-class rockets and space systems for commercial, military and civil government customers. The company's primary products are satellites and launch vehicles, including low-Earth orbit, geosynchronous-Earth orbit and planetary exploration spacecraft for communications, remote sensing, scientific and defense missions; human-rated space systems for Earth-orbit, lunar and other missions; ground- and air-launched rockets that deliver satellites into orbit; and missile defense systems that are used as interceptor and target vehicles. Orbital also provides satellite subsystems and space-related technical services to U.S. government agencies and laboratories. More information about Orbital can be found on the Internet at http://www.orbital.com, on Twitter @OrbitalSciences, or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/OrbitalSciencesCorp

About ATK

ATK is an aerospace, defense, and commercial products company with operations in 21 states, Puerto Rico, and internationally. News and information can be found on the Internet at www.atk.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/atk, or on Twitter @ATK.

>

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DocM    16,433

Enter the Thunderbolt, and the upper stage is getting the Aerojet Rocketdyne RL-10C-1. With an advanced (rumored composite) Orbital ATK first stage this thing's going to live up to its name.

stratolaunch_booster.jpg

http://www.rocket.com/article/aerojet-rocketdyne-provide-upper-stage-propulsion-revolutionary-eagles-launch-system

Aerojet Rocketdyne to Provide Upper-Stage Propulsion for Revolutionary Eagles Launch System

SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 19, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Aerojet Rocketdyne, a GenCorp(NYSE:GY) company, has received a contract fromvStratolaunch Systems Corporation (SSC) to provide six RL10C-1 production engines, with an option to provide an additional six RL10C-1 production engines at a later date, for the third stage of a revolutionary commercial air-launch system. The inaugural launch of Thunderbolt, the air-launch vehicle designed and developed for SSC, is scheduled for 2018.

"Aerojet Rocketdyne is pleased to provide RL10C-1 production engines for the Stratolaunch air-launch vehicle," said Steve Bouley, vice president of Space Launch Systems at Aerojet Rocketdyne. "The RL10 family of engines has a long history of reliability and dependability. This contract expands our reach into commercial ventures and builds greater volume, providing more affordable propulsion to all of our customers."

The design concept for The Eagles Launch System involves the launch of an unmanned rocket dubbed Thunderbolt, carrying a commercial or government payload from beneath the fuselage of a giant carrier aircraft. According to the concept, the carrier aircraft will be powered by six Boeing 747 class jet engines and have a wingspan greater than the length of a football field. Upon reaching a prescribed altitude, the rocket will be dropped from the aircraft, at which point two stages of solid rocket boosters will fire and propel the rocket skyward. Once the solid rocket boosters are expended, two Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C-1 engines will ignite to ultimately place the satellite into proper orbit.

The RL10C-1 is a liquid-fuel cryogenic rocket engine designed and developed from the RL10 family of upper-stage engines, which have accumulated one of the most impressive lists of accomplishments in the history of space propulsion. The RL10 has helped place numerous military, government and commercial satellites into orbit over the last five decades, and powered scientific space-probe missions to nearly every planet in our solar system. This new application for the RL10 family opens a new era within a commercial venture that will again be a platform for demonstrated reliability and mission success.

Aerojet Rocketdyne is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader providing propulsion and energetics to the space, missile defense and strategic systems, tactical systems and armaments areas, in support of domestic and international markets. GenCorp is a diversified company that provides innovative solutions that create value for its customers in the aerospace and defense, and real estate markets. Additional information aboutAerojet Rocketdyne and GenCorp can be obtained by visiting the companies' websites atwww.Rocket.com and www.GenCorp.com.

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DocM    16,433

InternalHero_Strato.jpg

https://twitter.com/Pat_DefDaily/status/558084849354149888

Quote of the day, at Stratolaunch: Kevin Mickey (from Scaled): We expect to fly this in 2016.

Me: This whole thing?

Mickey: This whole thing

https://twitter.com/Pat_DefDaily/status/557943736546516993

It is amazing to see stratolaunch's 300 foot wide aircraft in person. Truly a feat of engineering

https://twitter.com/Pat_DefDaily/status/558059529657909251

@Rand_Simberg we were not allowed to take photos. I'll probably write story about how far it is completed.

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