Microsoft co-founder announces Stratolaunch Systems
An artist's concept of the Stratolaunch Systems carrier aircraft.
December 13th, 2011
04:41 PM ET

Microsoft co-founder announces Stratolaunch Systems

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen announced his new space project today. Stratolaunch Systems will reunite Allen and aerospace pioneer Burt Rutan as they work to develop a new mobile launch system. The duo previously collaborated on SpaceShipOne, in 2004.

Stratolaunch Systems' new launch system will have three main components: a carrier aircraft, a multistage booster rocket, and a mating and integration system that will allow the aircraft and booster to work together. The carrier aircraft will be developed by Rutan's Scaled Composites, the same company that built SpaceShipOne. The booster will be built by Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), and Dynetics will be responsible for the mating and integration system.

The goal is to bring quick-turnaround, "airport-like operations" to spaceflight, first with payloads and eventually with humans, with plans for a first flight within the next five years. Compared with launching from the ground, launching from the air will cost less and be safer, more flexible, and more responsive.

The carrier plane will be the largest plane in the world: it's designed to have a wingspan of more than 380 feet and will fly using six Boeing 747 engines. Takeoff and landing will require a runway 12,000 feet long.

Follow @Stratolaunch, @Dynetics and @SpaceXer on Twitter.

You can also follow @CNNLightYears.

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Filed under: In Space • News
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Nihihilst

    Russian rockets are fueled from Vodka!

    January 4, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  2. Gerry Senker

    Funny, how a guy who made his billions with a company called Microsoft, likes everything Supersized.

    December 14, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
  3. Kent in Dallas TX

    @Fimillur & Nathan

    The posted message looks like a hopefully useful article to me.

    They are evidentally on working torward making the first launch system.

    Of course, they will need to test their launch system for extensively before they put a human in their system.

    Then they will need to have experienced test pilots try to fly their ystem.

    Paul Allen & colleages will probably want to passengers on the first launch.

    Then after years of testing they have few very brave people be passengers on a few launches of their system.

    They not be ready to have customers for a long, long time.

    Paul Allen DO NOT want to be sued for zillions of dollars after a client is inciinerated or smashed into tiny pieces.

    December 14, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • fimeilleur

      My post was in responce to a crack pot spammer who did have an add on this site, his message was removed, my comment to him was not. Sorry but it now appears that I am anti-science... Believe me when I say this is not the case.

      December 14, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
  4. Nathan Sokalski

    Do you know the difference between an advertisement and an article? Obviously not.

    December 14, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
  5. Bubba

    Please hurry. NASA's gonna run out of money hitching rides from the Russians!

    December 14, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  6. bateren joseph

    faster and quicker in da northern region, josy aljazeera

    December 14, 2011 at 10:52 am |
  7. Tony Webb

    Cecil Field Spaceport’s 12,500 feet by 200 feet runway in Jacksonville, FL has the ability to launch this spacecraft.
    We will keep the runway lights on for ya!

    December 14, 2011 at 10:06 am |
  8. bateren joseph

    light years was effective when it comes to news broadcast.

    December 14, 2011 at 10:57 am |


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