Artwork shows Stratolaunch’s giant carrier plane and several classes of launch vehicles, including Northrop Grumman’s Pegasus rocket, a medium-class rocket and its heavy-lift variant, and a fully reusable space plane. (Stratolaunch Illustration)
Stratolaunch, the space venture created by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in 2011, today provided the first details about a new family of launch vehicles it has in the works, including two types of rockets and a reusable space plane that could someday carry astronauts to orbit.
The revelation follows up on rumblings that Stratolaunch has been working on its own rockets and a “Black Ice” space plane, along with the world’s biggest airplane to launch them from.
Previously, the company had said only that it’d start by air-launching Pegasus XL rockets from Orbital ATK (which was recently acquired by Northrop Grumman). The Pegasus is still in the mix, but at the low end of Stratolaunch’s spectrum of orbital launch capability.
“We are excited to share for the first time some details about the development of our own, proprietary Stratolaunch launch vehicles, with which we will offer a flexible launch capability unlike any other,” Stratolaunch CEO Jean Floyd said in a news release. “Whatever the payload, whatever the orbit, ...