Report: StratoGoose is Cooked

Stratolaunch takes off. (Credit: Stratolaunch)

Reuters has confirmed reports that Parabolic Arc has been hearing for months here in Mojave: Stratolaunch’s goose is cooked.

Stratolaunch Systems Corporation, the space company founded by late billionaire and Microsoft Corp co-founder Paul Allen, is closing operations, cutting short ambitious plans to challenge traditional aerospace companies in a new “space race,” four people familiar with the matter said on Friday….

[Parent company] Vulcan has been exploring a possible sale of Stratolaunch’s assets and intellectual property, according to one of the four sources and also a fifth person….

The decision to set an exit strategy was made late last year by Allen’s sister, Jody Allen, chair of Vulcan Inc and trustee of the Paul G. Allen Trust, one of the four people and the fifth industry source said.

Jody Allen decided to let the carrier aircraft fly to honor her brother’s wishes and also to prove the vehicle and concept worked, one of the four people said.

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NASA Partners With 8 Companies in Spacecraft, Launch Technology

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA is partnering with eight U.S. companies to advance small spacecraft and launch vehicle technologies that are on the verge of maturation and are likely to benefit both NASA and the commercial space market.

These partnerships are the result of a solicitation released in August 2016 by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), titled Utilizing Public-Private Partnerships to Advance Tipping Point Technologies. They mark the second round of public-private opportunities that enable industry to develop promising commercial space technologies that also may benefit future NASA missions.

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COTS Hits the Big 1-0

Cygnus approaches ISS (Credit: NASA)
Cygnus approaches ISS (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Ten years ago, on August 18, 2006, NASA announced agreements with two private companies that dramatically changed the way NASA does business and the landscape for the commercial space industry.

The announcement was rooted in long term trends dating back to the 1980s, but the immediate cause of this change can be traced to the report of the President’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy. In the wake of the Columbia accident in 2003, and the announcement of the Vision for Space Exploration by President Bush in early 2004, the Commission was tasked with coming up with recommendations about future space policy.

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Table: U.S. Launcher Comparison

Above is a comparison table showing American rockets that are in operation, in development, and proposed. Most of this information is taken from FAA documents. I have added information for Taurus II, which is set to debut in September, and the proposed Falcon 9 Heavy based on company documentation.

Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Taurus II is a medium-launcher that is set to fill the market void is being left by the pending retirement of ULA’s Delta II rocket. The company has contracts to launch 8 resupply missions to the International Space Station. The figures for it are the maximum payload from Wallops Flight Facility using the most capable variant of the booster.

SpaceX’s proposed Falcon 9 Heavy would be the most powerful American booster if it is built, being able to lift almost 10 metric tons more than Delta IV Heavy. SpaceX is advertising the rocket at $95 million, which would be significantly lower than the largest version of the Delta IV.