Space Travel
1:11 pm
Tue December 13, 2011

Paul Allen to open airport operations - for space!

Paul Allen’s new company, Stratolaunch Systems hopes to bring airport-like operations to the launch of commercial and government payloads and, eventually, human missions. Plans call for a first flight within five years, according to a company press release.

The air-launch-to-orbit system will mean lower costs, greater safety, and more flexibility and responsiveness than is possible today with ground-based systems, the company declares.

Stratolaunch’s quick turnaround between launches will enable new orbital missions as well as break the logjam of missions queued up for launch facilities and a chance at space.

Allen’s new company, Stratolaunch Systems, will build a mobile launch system with three primary components:

  • A carrier aircraft, developed by Scaled Composites, the aircraft manufacturer and assembler founded by Rutan. It will be the largest aircraft ever flown.
  • A multi-stage booster, manufactured by Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies;
  • A state-of-the-art mating and integration system allowing the carrier aircraft to safely carry a booster weighing up to 490,000 pounds. It will be built by Dynetics, a leader in the field of aerospace engineering.

In this latest space venture, Allen once again joins aerospace pioneer Burt Rutan, whose SpaceShipOne was the first privately-funded, manned rocketship to fly beyond earth’s atmosphere.

“I have long dreamed about taking the next big step in private space flight after the success of SpaceShipOne – to offer a flexible, orbital space delivery system,” Allen said in the press release. “We are at the dawn of radical change in the space launch industry. Stratolaunch Systems is pioneering an innovative solution that will revolutionize space travel.”