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 January 28, 2015

News: Panel will propose new military retirement system - The long-awaited report on military compensation set to drop Thursday will propose fundamental changes to military retirement and health care benefits, according to several people familiar with the report. Source: DOD to request $585 billion for fiscal 2016 - The Department of Defense is preparing to submit a...
 
 

News Briefs January 28, 2015

Defense contractor to pay $2 million to settle claims A Northern California defense contractor will pay the federal government $2 million to settle claims about its manufacturing of parts for remote-controlled aircraft. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento says Sacramento-based Composite Engineering Inc. agreed to pay the money to end allegations that it artificially inflated...
 
 
Navy photograph

USS Roosevelt marks 200,000 trap

Navy photograph An F/A-18F Super Hornet flown by Capt. Daniel Grieco, commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), and Capt. Benjamin Hewlett, deputy commander of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1, complet...
 

 
Navy photograph by PO1 William Larned

USS California returns from maiden deployment

Navy photograph by PO1 William Larned The Virginia-class attack submarine USS California (SSN 781) returns from its maiden deployment to its homeport at Naval Submarine Base New London. Under the command of Cmdr. Shawn Huey, Ca...
 
 
Army photograph

Army proves new watercraft capabilities

Army photograph Marine Corps assets are loaded onto the USNS Sgt. Matej Kocak (T-AK 3005), from an U.S. Army Landing Craft Utility, or LCU, USAV Port Hudson during port operations, at White Beach Naval Base, Jan. 22, 2015. Sold...
 
 

Orbital stockholders approve merger with ATK’s aerospace, defense groups

Orbital Sciences Corporation announced Jan. 27 that at a special meeting, the company’s stockholders voted overwhelmingly to approve the proposed merger with the Aerospace and Defense Groups of Alliant Techsystems Inc., pursuant to the definitive transaction agreement dated April 28, 2014. Approximately 99 percent of the votes cast at the special meeting voted in favor...
 




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>