Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen Unveils Giant Plane for Private Space Launches
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen announced today (Dec. 13) that he is teaming up again with aerospace design mogul Burt Rutan to develop what the pair is calling a revolutionary approach to private space travel for cargo satellites, and eventually people.
The billionaire investor and philanthropist unveiled the new company Stratolaunch Systems, which aims to create airport-like operations for space travel. The company, headquartered in Huntsville, Ala., will use a gargantuan twin-boom aircraft to launch a rocket and space capsule on missions to send commercial and government payloads, and ultimately paying passengers, into orbit.
The company is aiming to fly the aircraft’s first test flight in 2015, with the first operational launch in 2016, company officials said today. Once the launch system is proven to be safe and reliable, manned flights will follow.
"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 in a statement. "We are at the dawn of radical change in the space launch industry. Stratolaunch Systems is pioneering an innovative solution that will revolutionize space travel."