The aviation company founded by Paul Allen, Stratolack, is closing operations, according to a Reuters report quoting anonymous sources. The company will end its efforts to challenge traditional aviation companies in the new "space race", said four people familiar with the issue.
In response to Ars' question about the potential completion of operations, a spokeswoman for the Seattle company replied: "We do not have news or announcements that we need to share at the moment. Stratolaunch remains operational."
Questions about the future of Stratolaunch emerged almost immediately after Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft, died in October 2018 at the age of 65. According to Reuters, the decision to set an exit strategy was made late last year by Alan's sister, Jody Allen. In January, Stratolaunch abandoned efforts to build a series of missiles that would be launched by his large jet plane – a frightening sign.
This threw a bomb over the first flight on the plane. With a distance of 384 meters, this world's largest aircraft flew in April after eight years of development. "You've all been very patient and very tolerant over the years, waiting to take this great bird out of the country, and finally we did it," Stratolaunch's general director, Jean Floyd, told reporters at the time. The company said the plane reached a speed of 189 kilometers per hour and heights of 17,000 meters during its 150-minute flight test before landing safely in the Mohave Air and a space port. But since then, it has not been flown.
During the development of the big Stratolaunch aircraft, Allen founded the company in 2011, fueled by childhood dreams of space flight and the desire to reduce the cost of accessing space – it is unclear why such a large aircraft is needed to start a relatively small rockets. Stratolaunch was agreed to launch the Pegasus rocket, developed by Northrop Grumman, which has a capacity of about 450 kilograms in a low-orbit orbit.
A competitor, Virgin Orbit, is much closer to the market with its air launch system. The company uses modified 747 aircraft named Cosmic girl, and is expected to launch a LauncherOne commercial launch service later this year. This rocket has a capacity of about 500 kilograms to the orbit of a low planet.
Now it seems that the Stratelone plane can really be a second event The goose froze aircraft. This spotted plane, built in 1947 as a bargaining project for eccentric business tycoon Howard Hughes, flew only one kilometer flight at an altitude of less than 100 meters before going to an exhibition at Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in Oregon. It had a wingspan of 320 meters.
The Stratolaunch advertisement image