StratoLaunch this year?

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georgegassaway

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Uh, PLANE may fly this year.

LAUNCH anything anytime soon, no.

They had grandiose plans for launching BIG rockets with it. That's why it needed to be this big. To carry rockets as heavy as 490,000 pounds. For comparison, the Gemini-Titan-II weighed 340k. Atlas-Centuar 300k. Delta-II, 345k. All of which were pretty big and capable of launching significant payloads into orbit. Without the benefit of a high altitude air-drop which would vastly increase their payload capability.

I know, Atlas was pretty fragile, and would not be practical to carry up that way. But these are just examples of well known orbital launch vehicles that are not even close to the launch mass of the kind of big rockets (as in below) that Stratolaunch's plane was supposed to exist for .




Now the best they can do is to arrange to carry some relatively small Pegasus rockets, that Orbital usually uses an L-1011 for. Or maybe something Orbital comes up with in several years.

So, they built a big plane but totally dropped the ball on coming up with a rocket worth building it for. And yeah, SpaceX was supposed to be involved with them. I don't know what happened with that, or why.

This is like buying a 747 for some grander plan that does not work out, and then ending up only selling tickets to fly 10 Economy passengers per trip.

 
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Nytrunner

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That first concept pic looks like the aft end of an old F9 and the payload nose of the full-thrust version.
 

rstaff3

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I bet no rockets, but the plane will fly. I'm giving no odds though.
 

Nytrunner

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Much like reusable boosters, it will be some time before actual cost savings are quantified.
 

Peartree

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Maybe they're hoping that it will be like "Field of Dreams."

Build it, and they will come?
 

Nytrunner

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The company will also look to expand the types of launch vehicles that are compatible with its carrier aircraft.
Basically, they've got to get rockets that can withstand hanging from that relatively narrow middle wing area. Looking at the concept picture, that old F9 is in danger of snapping in half at the LOX tank. Not the best place for bending moments from the 2nd stage and payload.
 

cwbullet

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It is a very ambicious aircraft, I hope it is successful. We are still waiting for a manned craft. It would be nice to have another choice for unmanned low orbit launches.
 

PropellantHead

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I'm sure people that are well above my level of expertise have designed this properly, but I have to say that, visually, that spar that connects the two fuselages together looks really skimpy. Given how long the fuselages are, if there is a glitch with the elevators on one side, the torque it would put on that spar would be quite substantial. It doesn't *look* like it could take that kind of abuse, but I'm sure looks are just deceiving in this case. Especially since that same spar is supposed to also hold up a ginormous rocket, too.
 

aerostadt

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Basically, they've got to get rockets that can withstand hanging from that relatively narrow middle wing area. Looking at the concept picture, that old F9 is in danger of snapping in half at the LOX tank. Not the best place for bending moments from the 2nd stage and payload.
Good point and this may be the reason that Space X bowed out of this enterprise. One of the advantages of a liquid rocket is that only the combustion chamber needs to be designed to withstand high pressure. Consequently, the fuel and LOX tanks can be relatively light. On the other hand those tanks are not high-strength structures and would inherently be challenged if fully loaded in the horizontal position. In solid propellant motors the entire case participates in being part of the combustion chamber. For the Space Shuttle SRB the solid rocket motor case was 1/2" thick steel. It was actually the SRB case that carried the entire static load of the Shuttle as it stood on the pad. Obviously, there is an experience base for using the solid propellant Pegasus for air launched satellite launchers.
 
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tfish

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I saw it fly by a couple of times while out at FAR. We had to wait for it to land before we could launch our rockets..
Tony

Screenshot_2019-04-14-05-37-21.png
 

Curtis Enlow

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"Gee, we built this massive, highly specialized plane that no longer has any foreseeable purpose. Silly us!"

Sounds like the Glomar Explorer of the aviation world. Maybe they'll sell it to DARPA at a big discount...?
 

Alan15578

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"Gee, we built this massive, highly specialized plane that no longer has any foreseeable purpose. Silly us!"

Sounds like the Glomar Explorer of the aviation world. Maybe they'll sell it to DARPA at a big discount...?
I was thinking it was more of a Spruce Goose story.
 

aerostadt

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