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The world’s biggest plane now has its own high-capacity rockets to launch

August 20, 2018

Aerospace company Stratolaunch has announced a home-grown set of rockets that will launch from its planned dual-fuselage plane.

I believe I can fly: The air-launch plane, which has a 117-meter wingspan, has been in testing for the last few years. The cmpany’s goal is to turn the underside of the plane into a launchpad, similar to the method used by Virgin Galactic and Virgin Orbit. This new method should slash the costs of rocket launches.

Ice ice baby: Stratolaunch revealed today that it’s developing two rockets of different sizes, as well as a space plane (nicknamed “Black Ice”) meant for transporting both humans and satellites. All of these will take off from the massive plane. Before today’s announcement, the company had only confirmed plans to launch rockets made by other companies, the first of which was the Pegasus made by Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems.

Whoa, we’re halfway there: According to Ars Technica, the launch plane will be ready for its first flight by the end of this year. But the second part of the of puzzle, the company’s proprietary rockets, will have to wait until 2022 to take to the skies. If it achieves these milestones, Stratolaunch will be in a position to compete in the growing area of reusable and sustainable spaceflight.

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