Stratolaunch has announced a new family of launch vehicles it says will enter regular service starting in 2020.
The company’s air-launch system will use the world’s largest aircraft as a mobile launch platform, capable of deploying launch vehicles that will carry satellites to multiple orbits and inclinations on a single mission.
Like booking a flight
With these new vehicles, Stratolaunch says it is poised “to make access to space convenient, affordable and routine”.
Jean Floyd, Chief Executive Officer at Stratolaunch, said: “We are excited to share for the first time some details about the development of our own, proprietary Stratolaunch launch vehicles, with which we will offer a flexible launch capability unlike any other.
“Whatever the payload, whatever the orbit, getting your satellite into space will soon be as easy as booking an airline flight.”
Cargo then crew
The four launch vehicles are:
Pegasus, which has already completed 35 successful launches. It will be able to carry payloads of up to 370 kg for a single or triple configuration. It is on schedule for flight in 2020.
The Medium Launch Vehicle (MLV) is in development and is set to launch in 2022. It has a payload of 3,400 kg.
The Medium Launch Vehicle – Heavy is a three-core MLV variant which will be able to deploy heavier payloads of up to 6,000kg to orbit. It is in early development.
The Space Plane is a fully reusable space plane that will be able to take payloads into orbit and back. It is initially being focused on cargo but the follow-on variant will be capable of transporting people. The aircraft is in the design study phase.
Stratolaunch was was established by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in 2011.