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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Stratolaunch engages Orbital Sciences Corporation in wake of SpaceX departure

Stratolaunch Systems, the commercial space venture backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, has cut ties with one of its high-profile partners, SpaceX, instead opting to utilize Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corporation to evaluate alternatives for cargo and humans to space, [SpaceNews].
“Stratolaunch and SpaceX have amicably agreed to end our contractual relationship because the current launch vehicle design has departed significantly from the Falcon derivative vehicle envisioned by SpaceX and does not fit well with their long-term strategic business model,”  Stratolaunch CEO Gary Wentz was quoted by Flight International (Nov. 27, 2012).
Stratolaunch is developing the world’s largest plane, with six 747 engines and a wingspan greater than the length of a football field, to launch rockets into space from 30,000 feet in the air. The vehicle requires at 12,000 feet runway. Stratolaunch has previously targeted 2016 for flights.
Wentz said in his message, “Moving forward, Stratolaunch has engaged Orbital Sciences Corporation to evaluate and develop alternative solutions with the objective of arriving at a design decision in the early spring timeframe. The other segment contractors will continue to proceed forward in accordance with existing plans since their interfaces have been defined.”

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