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The world’s largest airplane may be grounded after a single flight

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The aerospace company founded by Paul Allen, Stratolaunch, is closing operations according to a report by Reuters that cited anonymous sources. The company will cease its efforts to challenge traditional aerospace companies in a new “space race,” four people familiar with the matter told the wire service. In response to a query from Ars about potentially ending operations, a spokeswoman for the Seattle-based company replied, "We don’t have any news or announcements to share at this time.… (arstechnica.com) المزيد...

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mendieta
Pablo Rogina 4
I cannot think of similar destiny as of the Hughes H-4 Hercules "Spruce Goose". Could be the curse of the "biggest" ever airplanes?
rapidwolve
rapidwolve 3
Not really...AN 225 was resurrected and is very productive in it's use. Antonov may even upgrade the engines, since the Ukraine fall out with Russia, to CF6-80C2 engines.
mendieta
Pablo Rogina 3
Good point.
lynx318
lynx318 2
Never understood why it wasn't called the 'Birch Bird', what it was actually made from. Non-factual media journos again to be blamed.
rapidwolve
rapidwolve 1
Or the Hughes Hauler
loopgroup1
Craig Northacker 2
Son of Spruce Goose flies, er, doesn’t
jetmaninmo
jetmaninmo 4
An "anonymous source" is like saying "someone said..." They should not be taken seriously.
siriusloon
siriusloon 5
Says someone whose "name" is jetmaninmo.
devsfan
ken young 2
"Anonymous"..Once again, so called journalists hiding behind the first amendment which allows laziness, negligence and libel.
I see "anonymous" and I automatically call BEE ESS
rapidwolve
rapidwolve 2
I actually believe it, and I am betting the source is an employee who knows it wouldn't work.
To get payloads launched properly, and on the cheap, Stratolaunch would need to fly around 35,000 ft+ and reach speeds in excess of 300mph, with a payload. I think they flew it to say it did work to fly, to prove Paul was right that it could fly, but that's all it did. Remember, they had already cancelled the actual craft that would be used.
And now with Cosmic Girl and LauncherOne already flight tested...........
lynx318
lynx318 1
Worried that one test is concluded as all it can do. Max expected altitude seems as borderline but the planned max speed is 530mph, it just hasn't had the throttles opened up yet.
rapidwolve
rapidwolve 1
Planned max speed was no payload. if the payload was smaller than planned, than perhaps and remember, they already cancelled that. Don't get me wrong as it is a fantastic looking beast and Paul was on the right track, but that's just it. It's a beast, and even AN225 could not launch off its back unless it lost some weight and increased it's payload speed.
rwf1001
Robert Fleming 2
So basically that plane and the program that developed it was one GIANT waste of time and $$$$? Wonderful!
jimquinndallas
Jim Quinn 4
I'm not sure however I'm hoping that it involved private funding only, and not any taxpayer support.

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

jimquinndallas
Jim Quinn 3
You're certainly taking some liberties and making assumptions with that statement.

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

jimquinndallas
Jim Quinn 10
He shouldn't have brought politics into the conversation and make assumptions of my beliefs, just as you have done.
siriusloon
siriusloon 4
You're right, damn that Paul Allen for dying mid-project. What a self-centred monster.

Just out of curiosity, if he'd spent the equivalent sum of HIS OWN MONEY on anything else of his own choosing, why would that be of any concern to you?
cowboybob
cowboybob 2
Spruce Goose...."vanity project"? Hardly. Best study up on these things before sounding off.
lynx318
lynx318 5
Agreed, if I recall without looking it up, it was an attempt for a government contract that failed only because WW2 ended.
aecsdr
Chris DiCenso 1
But how many "small payloads" would it take to equal the one payload of any of the companies John Miller mentioned and would it still be cheaper?
rapidwolve
rapidwolve 1
Average price of a SpaceX launch is about $57 Mil...Average cost on Virgin and their "Cosmic Girl" since Stratolaunch closed already, is about $12 Mil
ChaosFreak
ChaosFreak 1
Virgin's real competition are companies like Rocket Lab, whose "Electron" rocket can put a 500 lb payload into low earth orbit for under $6M.

https://www.airspacemag.com/as-next/milestone-180968351/

BTW, I love the choice of name... The real rockets nerds will get it.
rapidwolve
rapidwolve 2
Not competition at all, considering the 12 MIL is priced for a single 1,100 lb payload. If the payload is lighter and hitch hikers want aboard, the costs will be on par with Rocket Lab's hitch hiker rates. Branson is actually rooting for Rocket Lab..it will keep all the "big players" on their toes.
Plus Cosmic Girl is not bounded by launching in 1 or 2 places. For example, Branson signed up with ANA to also launch payloads from Japan.
aecsdr
Chris DiCenso 1
Thanks for replying so quickly. Now these prices you mentioned are they for equal size payload amounts?
rapidwolve
rapidwolve 1
No and that is what gives these aerial launch platforms an advantage for smaller payloads..SpaceX, Blue Origin and ULA are big payload launchers..if u have a couple low weight LEO sats to place in orbit Virgin et all can do it quickly and cheaper.
aecsdr
Chris DiCenso 1
Yes, I see your point. "...if u have a couple low weight LEO sats to place in orbit"
definitely the way to go.
sparkie624
sparkie624 1
It did look interesting to see it flying, but that was about it...
jmilleratp
John Miller 1
I don't understand why this, or Virgin's effort, is advantageous to just launching a payload via SpaceX, Blue Origin or ULA.
dkb4z3
Devin Boyle 2
It is much less expensive to launch a small payload from the upper atmosphere using a much smaller (or single) stage launch vehicle launched from an airborne platform.
siriusloon
siriusloon 3
It would cost less, which is generally considered to be advantageous.

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