Space

December 7, 2012

Stratolaunch switches to Orbital for rocket

Tags:
Raphael Jaffe
Staff writer


Stratolaunch Systems and SpaceX are ending their joint plan that would have had SpaceX supply the rocket that the mothership takes to launch altitude.

Instead, Orbital Sciences Corp. is doing design studies for such a space vehicle. The parting of ways is amicable, and opens up a significant new project for Orbital. Stratolaunch CEO Gary Wentz announced the change in a Nov. 27 email.

The Stratolaunch project was announced in December 2011, and is funded by Paul Allen, cofounder of Microsoft. It envisions an enormous air-launch system that, in its original configuration with a SpaceX rocket, was to be capable of lofting 6,100 kilograms to low Earth orbit or 2,300 kilograms to geosynchronous orbit.

Scaled Composites of Mojave, Calif., is designing and building the system’s twin-boom mother ship: a massive, 222,000-kilogram airplane with a 117-meter wingspan capable of flying 2,400 kilometers from a launch site before deploying a rocket. It will be the largest aircraft ever built.
Dynetics Corp. of Huntsville, Ala., is building the mating and integration system that will secure the rocket to its carrier aircraft.

“We agreed with SpaceX that to meet our design requirements, the existing Falcon 9 architecture would require significant structural modifications to incorporate a fin/chine and to be carried horizontally,” Wentz said. “As we studied the design, it became apparent that SpaceX would have to make significant modifications to their manufacturing process to accommodate our configuration, which would have a pronounced effect on their business model.”

The Stratolaunch craft would include four or five engines, and will be launched horizontally in contrast to the Falconís vertical takeoff. SpaceX has not publicly commented on the break with Stratolaunch.

Orbitalís Pegasus is air launched from a reinforced L-1011 aircraft. There have been 41 Pegasus launches. They launch satellite payloads of about 450 kilograms. But only one, for April 2013, is now on the flight manifest. Orbital is hard at work on the Antares rocket and Cygnus cargo carrier for NASAís Commercial Crew Resupply program.

Allen also funded SpaceShipOne, designed and built by Bert Rutanís Scaled Composites, it won the $10 million X Prize in 2004, by flying above 100 kilometers twice within two weeks.

Developing SpaceShipOne cost about $28 million. Allen said he expected to spend “at least an order of magnitude more” on Stratolaunch than he spent on SpaceShipOne.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines November 21, 2014

News: Dempsey lays groundwork for larger 2016 defense budget - The top U.S. military official on Wednesday made the case for growing the base defense budget significantly over the $535 billion spending cap imposed by Congress for fiscal 2015.   Business: Boeing can bill $61 million that Pentagon withheld for months - The Pentagon withheld $60.5 million...
 
 

News Briefs November 21, 2014

Obama aide: U.S. should look at Ukraine military aid A senior aide of President Barack Obama says he believes the U.S. should consider giving Ukraine lethal, defensive military assistance to get Russia to think twice about its destabilizing behavior. Tony Blinken, the deputy national security adviser, cites serious violations by Russia of agreements not to...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SrA. Divine Cox

Kunsan AB hosts Exercise Max Thunder 14-2

Air Force photograph by SrA. Divine Cox A South Korean air force F-15 Strike Eagle lands Nov. 17, 2014, during Max Thunder 14-2 at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy personnel and aircraft...
 

 
LM-facility

Lockheed Martin opens Surface Navy Innovation Center

Lockheed Martin has opened the Surface Navy Innovation Center in Moorestown, N.J., to support the development of new technologies for the U.S. Navy. The SNIC is a research, development and demonstration facility that brings tog...
 
 
raytheon-test

Raytheon successfully demonstrates integrated electronic warfare capabilities

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Raytheon, in collaboration with the U.S. Navy, successfully demonstrated an end to end, first of its kind, integrated electronic attack system during flight tests at the Naval Air Weapons Station Chi...
 
 

Three bases identified as F-16 aggressor candidate bases

U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford Jr. A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft assigned to the 18th Aggressor Squadron lands at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Oct. 6 during RED FLAG-Alaska 15-1. RF-A is a series of Pacific Air Forces commander-directed field training exercises for U.S. and partner nation...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>