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1/21/2019

Stratolaunch cuts launch vehicle and rocket engine programs

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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.

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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. 

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