Paul Allen, Burt Rutan Team to Launch Rockets from Gigantic 1.2 Million Lb. Plane

Posted by on December 14th, 2011

UPDATE: Two key points missed in the initial post. First, this will indeed the largest plane ever built. Second, the rockets launched into orbit will be built by Weird Things darlings SpaceX.

Paul Allen and Burt Rutan have teamed up once again to send a plane into low-Earth orbit. Although this time, it’s on a bit grander scale.

Stratolaunch Systems will revolve around massive 1.2 million lb. planes using six 747 engines requiring 12,000 foot runway to bring the bird up to low orbit. It would then be capable of launching a rocket and landing back on Earth, therefore maximizing cost effectiveness and launch flexibility.

It’s also freaking gigantic. Seriously. Look at this thing.


They hope to launch within five years.

“We have plenty and many challenges ahead of us,” said Allen at the press conference today. “But by the end of the decade…Stratolaunch will be putting spacecraft into orbit [and will] give tomorrow’s children something to search for in the night sky.”

It’s a good thing we stopped dreaming


4 Responses to “Paul Allen, Burt Rutan Team to Launch Rockets from Gigantic 1.2 Million Lb. Plane”

  1. Sirwashbrook Says:

    One Step closer to lunch on Mars 

  2. Eiki Martinson Says:

    This plus the recent post about Google possibly saving Hanger One once again remind me how great it is to live in a world that features eccentric tech billionaires. We’ve gone from one Howard Hughes to a handful of them, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

  3. John Holchin Says:

    In college I worked on conceptual design for this kind of system to launch modern satellites to low earth orbit.  A launch to LEO uses about half of its fuel in the first 60,000, so if you can fly the rocket up there, you get some really good savings.  We did indeed come up with a massive plane, larger than anything that has flown.  We put a pilot in the aircraft like Mr. Rutan, but my adviser questioned why we didn’t save the weights and keep the pilot on the ground.  I think that answer may be the extra legal work to fly pilotless.

  4. Andrew Mayne Says:

    What’s 200 lbs when you’re talking a plane this massive? Should have told your advisor you oh would have saved $20 in fuel…