Beames Leaves Paul Allen’s Vulcan Aerospace

The new design of Stratolaunch's carrier aircraft. (Credit: Stratolaunch Systems)
The new design of Stratolaunch’s carrier aircraft. (Credit: Stratolaunch Systems)

Chuck Beames is out as president of Paul Allen’s Vulcan Aerospace and executive director of Stratolaunch Systems.

Alan Boyle reports that Beames is being replaced by Jean Floyd, who is CEO of Stratolaunch Systems. Floyd will serve as interim executive director of Vulcan Aerospace. Beames has left the company.

“Now that we’re closer to realizing our vision for convenient and affordable access to low Earth orbit (LEO) and moving into a more operational phase of our program, we are making some changes to our leadership,” Allen wrote in an email to employees.

Floyd joined Stratolaunch in 2015 after spending 25 years at Orbital ATK, where he led “air-launched space vehicle development, launch operations, and spacecraft programs,:” Allen said in his email.

Interestingly, Allen called Orbital ATK “a valued partner of Vulcan Aerospace.” This could be a clue to a mystery that has engulfed Stratolaunch Systems over the past several years: what rocket will be air launched from the company’s massive carrier aircraft.

The company earlier had agreements with SpaceX and later Orbital Sciences Corporation before it merged with ATK. Both agreements were terminated. It’s possible there is a new agreement with Orbital ATK to produce a booster.


  • MachineAgeChronicle

    10:1 that bird wont launch anything. I doubt it will even fly.

  • Smokey_the_Bear

    I’d take that bet. With enough money, you can literally move a mountain, and Mr. Allen has billions.

  • ThomasLMatula

    If nothing else it will make a nice addition to his museum. The world’s biggest aircraft.

  • therealdmt

    Definitely seems like it’s in limbo though…

    But if I were Allen, I’d finish it. He’s come this far and how exactly the market will shake out from the 2020’s on is unclear. What is clear is that change is in the wind, and part of that change will be a growth in the smaller satellite market, for which his Stratolauncher (with an appropriate booster) would have certain advantages. And just the principle of finishing what one has started — if you don’t see things through, you’ll never actually accomplish anything. They still have a chance to accomplish something impressive, a dream of many for many years, and, like you say, he does have the money to finance it.

    Still, with an original goal of revolutionizing access to space, he’s gotta be feeling a bit like he’s bet on the wrong horse…

  • publiusr

    Oh, it’ll fly one time. Now that Iran dug in even deeper with Fordow, when war comes and air superiority is had–it’ll be this glomar that drops an uber-bunker buster to destroy Iran’s nuclear installation.

  • Douglas Messier

    I don’t know what’s going to happen. This was originally Burt’s idea and it may suffer from his tendency toward big leaps. Ok we build this small little space plane with 3 seats and carrier aircraft. We’ll build something much bigger that can carry 11 people. (Original plan was 9 seats in cabin, which given the problems scaling up the engine to carry six is funny.)

    Anyway Stratolaunch is massively beyond anything Scaled has ever built. The medium sized rocket they planned to launch dwarfs Pegasus. But Burt had this idea in his head and they’re building it. Somehow he got Allen on board even though Allen’s previous experience was a small space plane immediately shipped to a museum after winning a prize. Allen bought into Burt’s gigantism.

  • Vladislaw

    The flying brick is proof of that…

  • Vladislaw

    I just can not imagine that the military will not want this …