Stratolaunch Announces New Launch Vehicles

Air-launched boosters (Credit: Stratolaunch)

SEATTLE, Wash. – August 20, 2018 (Stratolaunch PR) – Stratolaunch announces today its new family of launch vehicles that will enter regular service starting in 2020. The company’s unique 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. With these new vehicles, Stratolaunch is poised to make access to space convenient, affordable, and routine.

“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,” said Jean Floyd, Chief Executive Officer at Stratolaunch. “Whatever the payload, whatever the orbit, getting your satellite into space will soon be as easy as booking an airline flight.”

The updated launch offering from Stratolaunch includes the following vehicles:

  • Pegasus: With its existing track record of over 35 successful launches, Pegasus provides dependable access to orbit.
    • Capability: 370 kg payload* for a single or triple configuration
    • Status: Flight proven, integration and testing ongoing with first flight in 2020
  • Medium Launch Vehicle (MLV): A new medium-class air-launch vehicle optimized for short satellite integration timelines, affordable launch and flexible launch profiles.
    • Capability: 3,400 kg payload*
    • Status: In development with first flight in 2022
  • Medium Launch Vehicle – Heavy: A three-core MLV variant with capability to deploy heavier payloads to orbit.
    • Capability: 6,000 kg payload*
    • Status: Early development
  • Space Plane: A fully reusable space plane that enables advanced in-orbit capabilities and cargo return. Initial designs optimized for cargo launch, with a follow-on variant capable of transporting crew.
    • Capability: Medium-class payload or crew
    • Status: Design study

*Estimated performance for a 400 km circular orbit at 28.5°

Stratolaunch will be sharing more on these launch vehicles and on our vision for improved access to before the end of 2018. Visit the newly refreshed website at www.stratolaunch.com to learn more about our vision and career opportunities.

About Stratolaunch Systems Corporation

Founded in 2011 by Paul G. Allen, Stratolaunch Systems Corporation believes in safeguarding Planet Earth for future generations. We do this by enabling convenient, affordable, routine, airline-style access to space that empowers the world’s problem solvers, so that they can collect rich and actionable data and drive advancements in science, research, and technology from space.

Fly to orbit with Stratolaunch.

  • Vladislaw

    It was my understanding the space plane would only beable to put 3 people into LEO?

  • Terry Rawnsley

    I’m wondering about payload constraints due to the strength of the wing where it will be attached.

  • Geoff T

    Are you maybe thinking of the Stratolaunch/SNC partnership a few years back with a two-thirds scale Dreamchaser that fell through? If not, have more details about this new spaceplane proposal leaked somewhere?

  • Vladislaw

    Have not seen a capacity stat yet.

  • nathankoren

    What’s with the redone / absent cockpits of the carrier plane? They planning on turning this into a giant drone?

    Glad they’re developing some new LVs, though. The Pegasus triple-launch concept is quite frankly one of the weirdest and most pointless things than anyone has ever tried to market. Not sure how much sense their new LVs actually make, but at least they’re more sensible than what they had before.

  • Dave Salt

    I believe Stratolaunch has the same payload capacity as the An-225 (i.e. 250t) that would have been used as the air-launch platform for Interim-HoToL, which would have been able to place at least 7t payload into LEO… sufficient for a module sized to carry maybe a dozen people, maybe?

  • duheagle

    Absent cockpits? The illo accompanying this story pretty clearly shows windows on both fuselages. My understanding is that only the right-hand fuselage will have flight controls and provision for crew behind said windows.

  • Michael Halpern

    Well the left might have stuff functional or not to counter balance or just because they might not have bothered removing the systems from the left 747, after disconnecting them. I wonder how they are going to have the propellant tanks in the fuselages, one each would make one side a lot heavier than the other, splitting it so both provide fuel and oxidizer adds extra mass to the whole system.

  • envy

    Soyuz is over 7 tonnes, and barely fits 3 people.

  • Dave Salt

    I believe the Soyuz mass also includes the propulsion module, TPS and other equipment beyond the pressurized cabin and its ECLSS. Crew Dragon is around the same mass but will carry 7 crew, while the Apollo CM could carry up to 6 (7?) for Skylab rescue missions and weighed 5.5t.

    My assumption was that the ‘payload’ for a crewed version of the spaceplane would consist of a plug-in habitation module, a bit like ESA’s Spacelab, so things like propulsion and TPS would be accounted within the vehicle’s dry mass.

  • Zed_WEASEL

    The Roc airframe is new & composite. They just transfer mostly non-structural components from the old 747s along with the engines and maybe the landing gears. AIUI the left cockpit will be carrying monitoring instrumentation only.

    Presuming a LOX & kerosene/methane propulsion system for the 1st stage of the Kraken. Think they will have a small LOX tank in each fuselage to top up the Kraken.

  • Michael Halpern

    considering they nabbed a lead Raptor designer for their propulsion, I am guessing methalox, also has advantages for reuse, loses advantage on energy density, but LOX and LCH4 have similar density and can be kept at similar temp, so that may offset the density problem a little