Stratolaunch cuts launch vehicle and rocket engine programs
Stratolaunch has reportedly backed off of development of a family of launch vehicles that were intended to use the company’s all composite carrier aircraft as a launch platform.
Stratolaunch (Seattle, WA, US), the company behind the world’s largest all-composites aircraft, has reportedly backed off of its development program of a family of launch vehicles that were intended to use the company’s carrier aircraft as a mobile launch platform.
The company says, “we are streamlining operations, focusing on the aircraft and our ability to support a demonstration launch of the Northrop Grumman [Falls Church, VA, US] Pegasus XL air-launch vehicle.”
According to Aerospace Daily & Defense Report, the end of the launcher program comes just weeks after tests of its PGA rocket engine’s preburner at NASA Stennis Space Center (Hancock County, MS, US) – and three months after Stratolaunch founder Paul Allen, passed away from complications of lymphoma.
The family of launchers was planned around two expendable modular rockets powered by the PGA engine: a medium launch vehicle (MLV) with a 3,400 kg payload capacity and a medium launch vehicle-heavy with a 6,000 kg payload capacity. A medium-class payload reusable space plane was also part of the program.
Yes, advanced forms are in development, but has the technology progressed enough to make the business case?
Applications aren't as demanding as airframe composites, but requirements are still exacting — passenger safety is key.
There are numerous methods for fabricating composite components. Selection of a method for a particular part, therefore, will depend on the materials, the part design and end-use or application. Here's a guide to selection.