Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s space company Stratolaunch unveiled details of launch vehicles that will carry satellites to multiple orbits and inclinations on a single mission. It also announced a reusable space cargo plane it is developing that will be used to carry cargo to and from Earth and a follow-on variant that could carry people.
With its rockets, Allen’s Stratolaunch Systems Corp is trying to cash in on higher demand in the coming years for vessels that can put satellites into orbit. Rather than blasting off from a launch pad, Stratolaunch’s rockets will drop at high altitude from underneath the company’s six-engine, twin-fuselage airplane – the largest ever built by wingspan of 386 feet. The four vehicles expected to enter into service by 2020 will also help in launching small and medium-sized payloads into low Earth orbit.
“Whatever the payload, whatever the orbit, getting your satellite into space will soon be as easy as booking an airline flight,” Jean Floyd, Chief Executive Officer at Stratolaunch said in a statement. The company says it will use four different vehicles to launch satellites. The first is the Pegasus rocket that will be launched in 2020 and can carry 370 kg payload. The Medium Launch Vehicle that will be deployed in 2022 is optimized for short satellite integration timelines and can carry a payload of 3,400 kg.
A three-core heavy variant Medium Launch Vehicle with the capability to deploy payload of upto 6,000 kg is also in the pipeline. The company didn’t give a timeline for the vehicle but described it as being in “early development.
(With inputs from Reuters)