The coming year promises to be a pivotal period of test and development for a new wave of civil and military air-launched space access projects ranging from small payloads of around 100 lb. to the medium-class 13,000-lb.-plus capability of the Stratolaunch Thunderbolt. The broad-ranging initiatives—nearly all of which are expected to enter flight tests in 2016—mark a fundamental shift toward wider acceptance of the air-launch concept, and the debut of new entrants in a sector ...

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