Stratolaunch quietly making progress

Stratolaunch Systems, a Paul Allen project developing a commercial air launch space access system, is quietly starting up production inside its recently opened 88,000 square ft. site at Mojave, Calif. The facility is laying up the first parts of the enormous composite wing and fuselage sections of the 385-ft span carrier aircraft which will carry the Orbital Sciences-built multi-stage booster to launch altitude. Provisional details of the booster itself have also been revealed by Orbital. Measuring around 128 ft. long, the payload will be encased in a 16.4 ft. diameter fairing. Gross lift off (or drop) weight is expected to be over 465,000 lb, with the air launch vehicle (ALV) able to deliver 13,200lb to low earth orbit and 9,900 lb. to a highly inclined (HIO) orbit. Flight testing of the 6-engined carrier aircraft is expected to begin in 2016 with first launch of the ALV in 2018.

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ALV with carrier in background (Guy Norris), and (below) a closer view of the booster fairing and fin/wing configuration.

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