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Mothership to Launch Rockets into Orbit
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The newest project of Paul Allen and Burt Rutan is a 385-foot wing span, 544-ton plane that is powered by six 747 engines. The plane will act as a launching platform for 490,000 pound orbital rockets.

Many have described this plane as a mothership, and it harkens memories of Howard Hughes’ H-4 Hercules ‘Spruce Goose.’ It will transport SpaceX rocket launchers to the stratosphere. Once it reaches the stratosphere, the plane will release the rocket, will then fire into orbit. Each rocket will have the ability to transport close to 13,500 pounds of cargo into orbit, including manned spaceships.

  
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There is a range of 1,300 nautical miles for the airplane. The rockets transported by the plane will be derived from the Falcon IV ship.

According to the company, the plane will save people a lot of money. The plane will help to lower the cost of launches and minimize launch risks. The company also says that the plane will be more energy efficient and will not be dependent as much on the constraints of the weather like traditional launch methods usually are.

Gary Wentz, the CEO for Stratolaunch Systems. Wentz is a former chief engineer of science and mission systems at NASA. He thinks that the new system will change travel into space. The company also claims that the plane will be able to offer human flights at lower costs than what NASA is currently being charged by the Russians.

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The plane will be constructed at the Mojave Spaceport in California. The rockets will be constructed in Hawthorne, California by SpaceX. The integration, including the mating system, will be constructed in Huntsville, Alabama by Dynetics Space Systems.

At first, cargo will be launched into orbit, but the launch of equipment will not be sent to the International Space Station. At some point in the future, a launch could send up to six people at once into space. At this moment, the company has yet to decide on launching humans into space using the plane.



The company is hoping to test the plane beginning in 2015 and then launch the first rocket into orbit in 2016.



 

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