The aerospace company founded by Paul Allen, Stratolaunch, is shutting down its operations according to a Reuters report that cited anonymous sources. The company will cease its efforts to challenge traditional aerospace companies in a new "space race," four people familiar with the matter told the cable service.
In response to a query from Ars about possible final operations, a spokeswoman for the Seattle-based company responded: "We have no news or announcement to share at this time." Stratolaunch is still operational.
Questions about Stratolaunch's future arose almost immediately after Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft, died in October 2018, at the age of 65. According to Reuters, the decision to establish an exit strategy was made last year by Allen's sister. , Jody Allen. In January, Stratolaunch abandoned efforts to build a series of rockets to be launched from its large transport plane, an ominous signal.
This threw a pale on the first flight of the plane. With a wingspan of 384 feet, this world's largest aircraft took flight in April after eight years of development. "You have all been very patient and very tolerant over the years waiting for us to take off this great bird, and we finally did it," Stratolaunch CEO Jean Floyd told reporters. The company reported that the plane reached speeds of 189 mph and heights of 17,000 feet during its 150-minute test flight before safely landing at the Mojave air and spaceport. But he has not flown since then.
Throughout the development of the large Stratolaunch aircraft (Allen founded the company in 2011, driven by the childhood dreams of space flight and the desire to reduce the cost of access to space), it is not clear why an airplane was needed So large to launch relatively little rockets Stratolaunch had been hired to launch the Pegasus rocket, developed by Northrop Grumman, which has a capacity of approximately 450 kg at low Earth orbit.
A competitor, Virgin Orbit, is much closer to the market with its air launch system. The company uses a modified 747 aircraft called Cosmic girl, and commercial service with its LauncherOne rocket is expected to start later this year. This rocket has a capacity of approximately 500 kg to the orbit of the low Earth.
Now it seems that the Stratolaunch plane could be the second coming of the Goose groomed aircraft. This famous plane, built in 1947 as a vanity project by eccentric business mogul Howard Hughes, flew only a one-mile flight less than 100 feet before being displayed at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in Oregon. It had a wingspan of 320 feet.
List image by Stratolaunch