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A low-cost space trip? Hop into this stunning plane!

Last updated on: February 8, 2012 10:22 IST

A low-cost space trip? Hop into this stunning plane!

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Entrepreneur and philanthropist Paul G Allen and aerospace pioneer Burt Rutan plan to develop the next generation of space travel.

Stratolaunch Systems, founded by Paul G. Allen, is a private aerospace development company that will construct a one-of-a-kind composite aircraft for launching medium class payloads to space.

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Image: A breakthrough in space travel.


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The space flight revolution Allen and Rutan pioneered in 2004 has bigger ambitions now.

"I have long dreamed about taking the next big step in private space flight after the success of SpaceShipOne – to offer a flexible, orbital space delivery system," Allen said.

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Image: Next big step in private space flight.


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A low-cost space trip? Hop into this stunning plane!

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The space flight revolution Allen and Rutan pioneered in 2004 has bigger ambitions now.

"I have long dreamed about taking the next big step in private space flight after the success of SpaceShipOne – to offer a flexible, orbital space delivery system," Allen said.

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Image: A cost effective delivery system.

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Allen's new company, Stratolaunch Systems, will build a mobile launch system.

Stratolaunch Systems will bring airport-like operations to the launch of commercial and government payloads and, eventually, human missions.

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Image: A huge plane.

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The company plans for the first flight within five years.

The air-launch-to-orbit system will mean lower costs, greater safety, and more flexibility and responsiveness than is possible today with ground-based systems.

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Image: Greater safety promised.

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The Stratolaunch system will eventually have the capability of launching people into low earth orbit.

But the company is taking a building block approach in development of the launch aircraft and booster, with initial efforts focused on unmanned payloads.

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Image: Stratolaunch system can launch people into low earth orbit.

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Human flights will follow, after safety, reliability and operability are demonstrated.

The carrier aircraft will operate from a large airport/spaceport, such as Kennedy Space Center, and will be able to fly up to 1,300 nautical miles to the payload's launch point.

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Image: Getting ready for the next big mission.

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It will use six 747 engines, have a gross weight of more than 1.2 million pounds and a wingspan of more than 380 feet.

For takeoff and landing, it will require a runway 12,000 feet long. Systems onboard the launch aircraft will conduct the countdown and firing of the booster and will monitor the health of the orbital payload.


Image: Six powerful 747 engines.

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