Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 30 of 83

Thread: Stratolaunch’s Gargantuan Flying Launchpad

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Klang, Malaysia
    Posts
    7,575

    Stratolaunch’s Gargantuan Flying Launchpad

    Paul G. Allen, the billionaire space enthusiast and a Microsoft founder's vision of launching rockets using a giant plane is taking shape.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/20/sc...kies.html?_r=0

    Mr. Allen unveiled Stratolaunch in 2011 with the goal of revolutionizing access to space, mostly for commercial satellite operators hungry for more efficient methods of getting into orbit. Mr. Allen lured the renowned aerospace engineer Burt Rutan out of retirement to help with the project. A decade earlier, Mr. Allen financed Mr. Rutan’s efforts to build SpaceShipOne, a rocket-powered plane that in 2004 won the $10 million Ansari X Prize as the first private-crewed spacecraft to reach space.

    Stratolaunch bought two used Boeing 747s from United Airlines, removed most of their critical parts and is now reassembling them into one carrier plane with a new shell made of lightweight graphite composites. It is hoped that the plane will take off with a rocket slung underneath, which it would then drop from an altitude of more than 30,000 feet, sending it on its way to space.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    4,787
    Quote Originally Posted by selvaarchi View Post
    Paul G. Allen, the billionaire space enthusiast and a Microsoft founder's vision of launching rockets using a giant plane is taking shape.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/20/sc...kies.html?_r=0
    Looks good to me. I hope it works ok.
    I'm not a hardnosed mainstreamer; I just like the observations, theories, predictions, and results to match.

    "Mainstream isn’t a faith system. It is a verified body of work that must be taken into account if you wish to add to that body of work, or if you want to change the conclusions of that body of work." - korjik

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Klang, Malaysia
    Posts
    7,575
    A better coverage in this week's Space Review.

    http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3012/1

    For an instant after you walk through the back door into Stratolaunch System’s giant hangar at California’s Mojave Air and Space Port, you might think you’ve walked into a 23rd century spacedock from Star Trek. Above you extend two long, rectangular booms, looking for all the world like warp nacelles. It doesn’t take much to think that the scaffolding in front of you masks a saucer section under construction.

    “This is your wow moment,” says a company official leading a tour of the hangar. Wow, indeed.

    Stratolaunch, of course, isn’t building a starship or even a spaceship in its hangar at one corner of the desert airport. Instead, it is building one of the largest aircraft in the world: the largest by wingspan, at about 117 meters. That aircraft is intended to be the launch platform for—well, one or more different launch vehicles, yet to be determined, or at least announced. Even as the company’s giant airplane approaches completion, what exactly it will launch, and when, remain unknown.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    The Great NorthWet
    Posts
    14,640
    I spent a couple of decades closely involved with the 747 control stand and throttle levers. I'm dying to see how they're doing six of them.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    15,546
    The outboard engines are controlled by pressing shift + gear lever. What could go wrong? ;-)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    11,594

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Klang, Malaysia
    Posts
    7,575
    After a year of silence it is in the news again for all the right reasons. They built it. Now it only has to fly.

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/flig...out-of-hangar/

    "The gargantuan Stratolaunch carrier aircraft, built by Scaled Composites and nicknamed the "Roc," has the longest wingspan of any aircraft ever built: 385 feet from tip to tip. The six-engine mothership is designed to carry rockets between its two fuselages. Once at altitude, the mega-plane will drop the launch vehicle, which will then fire its boosters and launch to space from the air."

    Sent from my SM-G900F using Tapatalk
    I am because we are
    (African saying)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Klang, Malaysia
    Posts
    7,575
    Quote Originally Posted by selvaarchi View Post
    After a year of silence it is in the news again for all the right reasons. They built it. Now it only has to fly.

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/flig...out-of-hangar/

    "The gargantuan Stratolaunch carrier aircraft, built by Scaled Composites and nicknamed the "Roc," has the longest wingspan of any aircraft ever built: 385 feet from tip to tip. The six-engine mothership is designed to carry rockets between its two fuselages. Once at altitude, the mega-plane will drop the launch vehicle, which will then fire its boosters and launch to space from the air."

    Sent from my SM-G900F using Tapatalk
    It has flown

    https://www.geekwire.com/2017/spaces...h-test-flight/

    "Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo rocket plane took another step toward lighting up its engine in flight today, by simulating the shift in its weight with water instead of rocket fuel.

    Today’s test flight involved sending up the plane, christened VSS Unity, from California’s Mojave Air and Space Port attached to its twin-fuselage White Knight carrier airplane."

    Sent from my SM-G900F using Tapatalk
    I am because we are
    (African saying)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    The Great NorthWet
    Posts
    14,640
    Quote Originally Posted by selvaarchi View Post
    It has flown

    https://www.geekwire.com/2017/spaces...h-test-flight/

    "Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo rocket plane took another step toward lighting up its engine in flight today, by simulating the shift in its weight with water instead of rocket fuel.

    Today’s test flight involved sending up the plane, christened VSS Unity, from California’s Mojave Air and Space Port attached to its twin-fuselage White Knight carrier airplane."

    Sent from my SM-G900F using Tapatalk
    Umm, SpaceShipTwo =/= stratolaunch.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    11,594
    True--but the Stratolauncher would make a good White Knight 3/Tier-3

    AN-225 still has more payload capability.
    http://www.buran.fr/mriya-antonov/img/antonov-grand.jpg
    https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-grseNoe79...225-mryya..jpg

    Stratolaunch is spindly.

    Just in:
    http://www.parabolicarc.com/2017/06/...-stratolaunch/

    "At 238 feet long, 50 feet high and spanning 385 feet from wing tip to wing tip, the Stratolaunch carrier plane is an absolute monster that makes everything around it — people, vehicles, ground equipment — look tiny by comparison."

    Allen should have bought the second AN-225. China has it now:

    http://www.bbc.com/future/story/2017...-a-new-mission

    "In 2016, the Airspace Industry Corporation of China (AICC), a privately-owned aerospace and defense company, signed a cooperation agreement with Antonov for the An-225 programme. If it goes through as planned, the skies could soon be flooded by a fleet of Chinese built An-225s."


    --scroll down in the comment section here:
    http://spacenews.com/stratolaunch-ro...iant-aircraft/
    Last edited by publiusr; 2017-Jun-02 at 10:19 PM.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    15,546
    I don't get how a journalist can mention Pegasus rockets and "It's a new way of approaching spaceflight" in one and the same article.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    The Great NorthWet
    Posts
    14,640
    Quote Originally Posted by Nicolas View Post
    I don't get how a journalist can mention Pegasus rockets and "It's a new way of approaching spaceflight" in one and the same article.
    Yup. Same rocket, different airplane, at least at first. Presumably they'll move on to bigger rockets but it's still the same concept.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Nashville, TN
    Posts
    1,657
    According to Elon Musk, air launching only gives a 5% performance advantage over ground launching.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_launch_to_orbit

    OTOH with a 500,000 lb external payload capacity, it could theoretically carry the mass of a Titan II Gemini launcher. However their strategy has apparently shifted to launching lighter payloads: https://spaceflightnow.com/2016/10/1...gasus-rockets/

    At least it can pick up a few hundred feet/sec delta-V by doing an equatorial launch.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    5,772
    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Yup. Same rocket, different airplane, at least at first. Presumably they'll move on to bigger rockets but it's still the same concept.
    The odds of it being cheaper to launch the same rocket from the one-of-a-kind Roc instead of a slightly modified TriStar seem basically nonexistent, so this seems more like something for their plane to do while they try to come up with something more suited to it.

    Unfortunately, the benefits of air launch diminish greatly as scale goes up, and Pegasus starts off nearly as expensive as an expendable Falcon 9. If you can launch 10-20 times the payload on a Falcon 9 for less than a scaled-up Pegasus II...well, this is probably the line of reasoning that led to the Pegasus II idea being dropped. And air launch doesn't make reuse of the rocket any easier.

    Maybe they could launch modified Electrons with enough surplus performance to accommodate the structural changes required and allow recovery of the first stages...they're small enough that snagging the whole thing with a helicopter might work.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Posts
    15,360
    Quote Originally Posted by cjameshuff View Post
    The odds of it being cheaper to launch the same rocket from the one-of-a-kind Roc instead of a slightly modified TriStar seem basically nonexistent, so this seems more like something for their plane to do while they try to come up with something more suited to it.
    Maybe the maintenance costs for the TriStar were adding up to "$too,much"? "As of 2014, three L-1011s in the world are airworthy" (of course modifying a more modern airliner might change that balance..).

    I'm wondering if in large numbers (for the payload size applicable), maybe there's an reliability advantage to using an airplane for part of the way up. And/or more freedom in location to launch from (and have possible debris land). Just saying, the performance advantage may not be the only advantage.

    As an aside, it surprised me that Twin-boom Aircraft has its own category on Wikipedia. This "2 aircraft joined at the wing" type reminds me of a WW2 era aircraft but I can't remember which one. Not the Blohm & Voss BV 138, interesting as it might be.
    ____________
    "Dumb all over, a little ugly on the side." -- Frank Zappa
    "Your right to hold an opinion is not being contested. Your expectation that it be taken seriously is." -- Jason Thompson
    "This is really very simple, but unfortunately it's very complicated." -- publius

    Moderator comments in this color | Get moderator attention using the lower left icon:
    Recommended reading: Forum Rules * Forum FAQs * Conspiracy Theory Advice * Alternate Theory Advocates Advice

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    15,546
    You are likely thinking about the F-82 Twin Mustang, or double tail configs like the P38 and similar designs. They were all connected with the tails as well though; Scaled is quite unique in having the tails separate.

    Croc could eventually be used to launch something like SS2 but larger?
    Last edited by Nicolas; 2017-Jun-06 at 11:56 AM.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Posts
    15,360
    Quote Originally Posted by Nicolas View Post
    You are likely thinking about the F-82 Twin Mustang, or double tail configs like the P38 and similar designs. They were all connected with the tails as well though; Scaled is quite unique in having the tails separate.
    Thanks, but no, not the Twin Mustang, pretty though as any Mustang... Looking at this list, I think it must have been either the Heinkel or the Dornier that I remembered. And they both have separate tails.
    ____________
    "Dumb all over, a little ugly on the side." -- Frank Zappa
    "Your right to hold an opinion is not being contested. Your expectation that it be taken seriously is." -- Jason Thompson
    "This is really very simple, but unfortunately it's very complicated." -- publius

    Moderator comments in this color | Get moderator attention using the lower left icon:
    Recommended reading: Forum Rules * Forum FAQs * Conspiracy Theory Advice * Alternate Theory Advocates Advice

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    The Great NorthWet
    Posts
    14,640
    Quote Originally Posted by cjameshuff View Post
    The odds of it being cheaper to launch the same rocket from the one-of-a-kind Roc instead of a slightly modified TriStar seem basically nonexistent, so this seems more like something for their plane to do while they try to come up with something more suited to it.

    Unfortunately, the benefits of air launch diminish greatly as scale goes up, and Pegasus starts off nearly as expensive as an expendable Falcon 9. If you can launch 10-20 times the payload on a Falcon 9 for less than a scaled-up Pegasus II...well, this is probably the line of reasoning that led to the Pegasus II idea being dropped. And air launch doesn't make reuse of the rocket any easier.

    Maybe they could launch modified Electrons with enough surplus performance to accommodate the structural changes required and allow recovery of the first stages...they're small enough that snagging the whole thing with a helicopter might work.
    According to Wikipedia, they've been through multiple rocket "partners":
    Originally SpaceX was intended to provide a liquid-fuelled rocket to serve as the means of lifting the Stratolaunch payload delivery vehicle into space by launching it at high altitude from under the carrier aircraft, but collaboration with SpaceX was abandoned in late 2012.[20]
    In November 2012, Stratolaunch retained Orbital ATK on a "study contract" to develop and evaluate "several alternative configurations" for the vehicle to be launched from the carrier aircraft.[21]
    By early 2013, Orbital ATK was under contract to develop the Pegasus II for the Stratolaunch space vehicle launch component: The Pegasus II was expected to be able to deliver up to 6,100 kilograms (13,500 lb) to low Earth orbit.[22]
    In May 2014, it was announced that the Pegasus II solid-fuel rocket was not achieving design economic goals and that Stratolaunch had contracted with Aerojet Rocketdyne to build the RL10C-1 dual-motor liquid fuel engines for the launch vehicle.[23]
    In October 2016, it was announced that "multiple" Pegasus XL rockets would be used by Stratolaunch.[24]
    That kind of suggests a concept in search of a purpose.

    Quote Originally Posted by slang View Post
    Maybe the maintenance costs for the TriStar were adding up to "$too,much"? "As of 2014, three L-1011s in the world are airworthy" (of course modifying a more modern airliner might change that balance..).
    IIRC, the L-1011 was originally chosen because of a unique structural configuration with twin keel beams, providing a space between for the vertical tail of the Pegasus. Other airliners would be much harder to adapt.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    11,594
    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    According to Wikipedia, they've been through multiple rocket "partners":

    That kind of suggests a concept in search of a purpose.
    Some think there may be military backing:
    http://www.parabolicarc.com/2017/06/...-stratolaunch/

    They may be looking in-house now--with this hire:
    http://www.parabolicarc.com/2017/06/...nt-propulsion/

    More:
    http://up-ship.com/blog/?p=34924
    Last edited by publiusr; 2017-Jun-16 at 09:05 PM.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    5,772
    Quote Originally Posted by slang View Post
    Maybe the maintenance costs for the TriStar were adding up to "$too,much"? "As of 2014, three L-1011s in the world are airworthy" (of course modifying a more modern airliner might change that balance..).

    I'm wondering if in large numbers (for the payload size applicable), maybe there's an reliability advantage to using an airplane for part of the way up. And/or more freedom in location to launch from (and have possible debris land). Just saying, the performance advantage may not be the only advantage.

    As an aside, it surprised me that Twin-boom Aircraft has its own category on Wikipedia. This "2 aircraft joined at the wing" type reminds me of a WW2 era aircraft but I can't remember which one. Not the Blohm & Voss BV 138, interesting as it might be.
    That's still 3 times as many TriStars than Rocs. And parts, equipment, and personnel with experience at servicing and operating them and similar aircraft scattered across the globe, not to mention airports that can handle them.

    And yeah, modifying another airliner is another alternative. For example, Virgin Galactic has abandoned the idea of using White Knight Two as a carrier for orbital launches, and is instead modifying a 747.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    The Great NorthWet
    Posts
    14,640
    Quote Originally Posted by cjameshuff View Post
    That's still 3 times as many TriStars than Rocs. And parts, equipment, and personnel with experience at servicing and operating them and similar aircraft scattered across the globe, not to mention airports that can handle them.

    And yeah, modifying another airliner is another alternative. For example, Virgin Galactic has abandoned the idea of using White Knight Two as a carrier for orbital launches, and is instead modifying a 747.
    But the engines and most of the systems for the Roc have come from a couple of 747-400's. Still lots of those around.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    5,772
    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    But the engines and most of the systems for the Roc have come from a couple of 747-400's. Still lots of those around.
    But they're in a Roc, not a 747. A great deal of the aircraft is completely custom, the 747 parts are not operating in the same environment they did in a 747, and many of the maintenance and operation procedures will be considerably different. Using 747 parts will probably help significantly in reducing the costs of operating the Roc, but I don't see it making it cheaper than a modified 747 such as what LauncherOne is using.

    I just can't believe that "use a more expensive aircraft for the most expensive launcher in operation" is a viable first step to reducing the cost of access to space. And worse, they're talking about launching multiple Pegasus rockets on a single flight, which will mean to similar orbits. This will mean a total price of something like 2-3 Falcon 9 launches, with nearly the same restrictions on scheduling as sharing rides on a single Falcon 9, but nowhere near the available payload capacity.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    The Netherlands
    Posts
    15,360
    Quote Originally Posted by cjameshuff View Post
    That's still 3 times as many TriStars than Rocs. And parts, equipment, and personnel with experience at servicing and operating them and similar aircraft scattered across the globe, not to mention airports that can handle them.
    I'm not getting into a discussion on which of the two choices is cheaper, and who knows, perhaps other reasons than cost forced the choice. But I will say that while you are probably correct in what you say, it says nothing about what it costs to keep that situation for another 10 or 20 years. Are those parts within their shelf-life? For how long? Can the support equipment itself still be maintained? Can new support personnel still be trained, or does it lean mostly on very experienced and knowledgeable but end-of-career older folks? Will the FAA go along with it?
    ____________
    "Dumb all over, a little ugly on the side." -- Frank Zappa
    "Your right to hold an opinion is not being contested. Your expectation that it be taken seriously is." -- Jason Thompson
    "This is really very simple, but unfortunately it's very complicated." -- publius

    Moderator comments in this color | Get moderator attention using the lower left icon:
    Recommended reading: Forum Rules * Forum FAQs * Conspiracy Theory Advice * Alternate Theory Advocates Advice

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    The Great NorthWet
    Posts
    14,640
    Quote Originally Posted by cjameshuff View Post
    But they're in a Roc, not a 747. A great deal of the aircraft is completely custom, the 747 parts are not operating in the same environment they did in a 747, and many of the maintenance and operation procedures will be considerably different. Using 747 parts will probably help significantly in reducing the costs of operating the Roc, but I don't see it making it cheaper than a modified 747 such as what LauncherOne is using.

    I just can't believe that "use a more expensive aircraft for the most expensive launcher in operation" is a viable first step to reducing the cost of access to space. And worse, they're talking about launching multiple Pegasus rockets on a single flight, which will mean to similar orbits. This will mean a total price of something like 2-3 Falcon 9 launches, with nearly the same restrictions on scheduling as sharing rides on a single Falcon 9, but nowhere near the available payload capacity.
    I can't argue with the bold. As I said earlier (I think), it's something of a solution in search of a problem. A 747 won't have the ultimate capability of this thing, but that capability may not be needed.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Klang, Malaysia
    Posts
    7,575
    With the 1st phase engine testing we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, when the largest plane in the world takes to the air.

    http://robbreport.com/motors/aviatio...gines-2753516/

    "Stratolaunch, which is on track to be the world’s largest airplane, with a wingspan of 385 feet, has completed its first phase of engine testing, the company has announced. This puts the aircraft “one step closer to providing convenient, reliable, and routine access to low Earth orbit,” the company said. All six of the aircraft’s second-hand Pratt & Whitney turbofan engines, which previously powered Boeing 747s, were started up and tested."

    Sent from my SM-G900F using Tapatalk
    I am because we are
    (African saying)

  26. #26
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    The Great NorthWet
    Posts
    14,640
    I'm dying to see what the flight deck looks like on that. Particularly the throttle levers to see how they're doing six, because I worked on the four for the 747 for many years.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  27. #27
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    11,594
    Now Branson has new money to play with--maybe buy this from Allen and do Tier Three?
    http://www.parabolicarc.com/2017/10/...lights-riyadi/

    The plane there reminds me a bit of Star Raker
    https://horizontalspace.wordpress.co...-light-of-day/
    Last edited by publiusr; 2017-Oct-31 at 09:16 PM.

  28. #28
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Klang, Malaysia
    Posts
    7,575
    It has aced its first taxi test

    https://www.geekwire.com/2017/paul-a...rst-taxi-test/

    That’s one more not-so-small step for Stratolaunch’s giant airplane: The space venture’s founder, software billionaire Paul Allen, is showing off a 34-second video of the twin-fuselage aircraft as it aced its first taxi test on the runway at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California.

    Allen said the test was conducted Saturday, marking a rare outing for the plane that’s destined to serve as a flying platform for launching rockets into space. In tonight’s tweet, he promised that there’d be “more to share soon”:

  29. #29
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Klang, Malaysia
    Posts
    7,575
    They have taxied it to about 46mph. They need to double that for take off.

    https://www.popularmechanics.com/fli...est-taxi-test/

    "Stratolaunch, a gigantic twin-fuselage aircraft built by Scaled Composites for Paul Allen's Stratolaunch Systems, is inching closer and closer to first flight. On February 26, Paul Allen tweeted out a video of the biggest airplane in the world by wingspan, 385 feet from tip to tip, conducting taxi tests at the Mojave Air & Space Port that brought the mothership up to 40 knots, or about 46 mph. This represents an increase of about 15 knots since Stratolaunch rolled down the taxiway under its own power for the first time in December."

    Sent from my SM-G900F using Tapatalk
    I am because we are
    (African saying)

  30. #30
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    The Great NorthWet
    Posts
    14,640
    I'd love to see the flight deck of that. Because they've used a lot of items from two 747's, and I spent a lot of time working on stuff in the 747 flight deck. I especially want to see how they are doing six engines.

    ETA: Googled up a picture. Ooh, that looks promising. Caption:
    This is the inside of a Boeing 747-400, showing you what the cockpit of the Stratolaunch looks like.
    Nutz! I KNOW what a 747-400 looks like!
    Last edited by Trebuchet; 2018-Feb-27 at 04:03 PM.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •