World’s Biggest Aircraft to Bring Passengers to Space

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen announced Tuesday his plan to create a company that will bring “airport-like operations” to private spaceflight –thanks to the world’s biggest aircraft.

The business magnate is teaming up with Burt Rutan, the aerospace engineer that developed the original SpaceShipOne — the first privately funded, manned rocket ship to fly beyond Earth’s atmosphere. Looking to build on that success, Stratolaunch Systems promises to bring greater safety, cost-effectiveness, and flexibility to space travel.

“For the first time since John Glenn, America cannot fly its own astronauts into space,” Allen said, noting the recent final flight by the space shuttle and the elimination of the Constellation program, which would have built a successor craft. “By the end of this decade, Stratolaunch will be putting spacecraft into orbit.”

The new space system will be focused on carrying commercial and government cargo into space, but Rutan and Allen hope it will eventually carry human cargo as well. The company’s motto: Any orbit, any time.

The idea between Stratolaunch’s “mobile-launch” system isn’t new. In fact, it’s similar to the one used for Rutan’s earlier craft SpaceShipOne, which requires a “mothership” to carry it into the air before it is released for air-launch. The biggest advantages of the air-launch-to-orbit system will be Stratolaunch’s quick turnaround between launches. This means  lower costs and more potential flights. The first test flight is planned for the beginning of 2016.

 

 

Source: Fox News

Image: Gizmodo.com