Launched in 2011 by Paul G. Allen, Stratolaunch is facilitating a shift from the current orbital launch model to a flexible and less expensive model. Stratolaunch is an air launch system capable of transporting payloads to low Earth orbit, with a carrier aircraft acting as a mobile launch range. This new architecture will expand mission and operational flexibility by decoupling launch service from its dependence on the traditional ground launch ranges.
Stratolaunch’s ability to launch from variable locations will enable satellites and humans to be efficiently inserted into their most optimal orbit at a time of the customer’s choosing. Launching far away from populated areas also significantly improves safety. Flexibility will be even greater when the Stratolaunch system is adapted to launch various types of launch vehicles.
The carrier vehicle is being developed by Scaled Composites.
ABOVE: The Stratolaunch carrier vehicle under construction in the hangar at the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, Calif.