Friday, December 16, 2011

New access to space on a big scale

Can billionaires solve the launch problem?
You can't say Paul Allen and Elon Musk think small.  A six-engined launch airplane derived from two 747s, plus a modified Falcon 9 medium-lift booster, is what the new Stratolaunch venture is planning on with help from legendary high-tech aircrat designer Burt Rutan.  The partners think the advantages of airlaunch plus the ability to capture a broad spectrum of military, NASA, and commercial business will result in a high-volume, low-cost business.
COMMENT. I admire their willingness to take the big risk and hope this comes off.  I am concenred about the sheer complexity of the thing.  Will it work reliably, and, if it does, will it really capture enough market to keep the costs down?  Will it be able to underprice ground launches of the Falcon series boosters? I wish Stratolaunch every success.

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