Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Stratolaunch - the largest airplane ever



"Stratolaunch Systems is pioneering innovative solutions to revolutionize space transportation. Watch the video or visit http://www.stratolaunch.com to learn more."

It looks like a large Pegasus. The real question is the cost per launch, and they really need to get it down to a few million per launch. (At 15,000 lbs payload, I would like to see $5,000,000 per launch, compared to $30,000,000 per Pegasus at 1,000 lbs payload.) Short of a drastic decrease in price, or increase in launch rate, this type of complexity and the serious limitations imposed make it hard to justify. As always, the best solution is probably the big dumb rocket way with solid propellant in the booster stage. Reusable rockets, SSTO systems, or hybrid systems like this tend to cost too much money. The Shuttle is a key example of that problem.

This jet is unable to carry a rocket bigger than about 500,000 lbs. Will it impart enough additional altitude and forward velocity to make that worthwhile? Or are you (as is often the case) just better off going with a 1,000,000 lbs rocket from the ground?

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