Stratolaunch has taken the wraps off an expanded family of air-launched vehicles scheduled to enter service from 2020 onwards.
Seattle-based Stratolaunch has taken the wraps off an expanded family of launch vehicles scheduled to enter service from 2020 onwards. The vehicles are designed to be air-launched from the company's giant six-engine carrier aircraft, which is currently in ground testing.
The updated launch offering from Stratolaunch includes the following vehicles (performance estimated for a 400km circular orbit at 28.5°):
Pegasus: The existing Pegasus launcher, built by Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems (the former Orbital ATK), already boasts a track record of over 35 successful launches. Pegasus can carry a 370kg payload for a single or triple configuration. Integration and testing are currently ongoing, with a first flight on Stratolaunch set for 2020.
Medium Launch Vehicle (MLV): a new medium-class air-launch vehicle (3,400kg payload) optimised for short satellite integration timelines, affordable launch and flexible launch profiles. The MLV is currently in development, with first flight set for 2022.
Medium Launch Vehicle – Heavy: a three-core MLV variant with capability to deploy heavier payloads (6,000kg). This vehicle is in early development.
Space Plane: A fully reusable space plane that enables advanced in-orbit capabilities and cargo return. Initial designs optimized for cargo launch, with a follow-on variant capable of transporting crew.
The aircraft is being built by Stratolaunch Systems Corp. in partnership with Scaled Composites, which is also part of Northrop Grumman.