Paul Allen and Burt Rutan, the pioneers who brought us Scaled Composite’s SpaceShipOne, have teamed with Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Dynetics to develop Stratolaunch – a super-sized carrier aircraft for airborne launch of space vehicles as large as Falcon 9.
Resembling an enormous, scaled-up version of the SpaceShipTwo built for Virgin Galactic, the mothership will be powered by six Boeing 747 engines and have a wingspan of 385 ft. The vehicle’s gross weight at take-off – including the booster payload between the fuselages – will be more than 1.2 million lbs. Flight tests are targeted to start in 2016. To read more details in an upcoming report visit Aviation Week’s Intelligence Network (AWIN) site.