Stratolaunch

FighterJock

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Apparently the Science show about Stratolaunch finally premiered in the US. Did anybody watch it? Was it any good?

It is streamable in the US:


Any idea as to when it will be available on YouTube?

No idea. I don't work for the Science Channel, I just know how to Google really good. ;)

Just checked the Science Channels YouTube page the Stratolaunch show is not on YouTube yet, hope it is not long before it appears on YouTube as I am desperate to see it.
 

blackstar

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Truly the Spruce Goose of our era.
They showed the Spruce Goose in the documentary. They didn't do so with any irony. The theme of shows like this is "Wow! Cool! Neato!" and not "This was probably not a good idea..."

For instance, no mention of the long and failed effort to get a rocket to launch from this aircraft. No mention that it was funded by a billionaire as his vanity project (clearly a similarity to Howard Hughes and the Spruce Goose, right?), or that he died, or that the company was folding and then re-launched itself. Nothing negative there. Just Giant Airplane Coolness.

The episode looks nice, however, so let's just go with that.
 

TomS

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Truly the Spruce Goose of our era.
They showed the Spruce Goose in the documentary. They didn't do so with any irony. The theme of shows like this is "Wow! Cool! Neato!" and not "This was probably not a good idea..."

For instance, no mention of the long and failed effort to get a rocket to launch from this aircraft. No mention that it was funded by a billionaire as his vanity project (clearly a similarity to Howard Hughes and the Spruce Goose, right?), or that he died, or that the company was folding and then re-launched itself. Nothing negative there. Just Giant Airplane Coolness.

The episode looks nice, however, so let's just go with that.

I'm not sure why people are surprised about this. It's just the nature of how these shows are made. They require a good deal of access and cooperation from the companies, and that usually comes with some degree of content control. Companies clearly don't want to cooperate if they feel they are going to be presented in a negative light, and word gets around, so a production team that gets a reputation for criticizing their subjects doesn't get invited to the next company that want to film. And obviously, the company employees are never going to be forthright about their problems -- they want to keep their jobs and keep the company in business.
 

blackstar

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Truly the Spruce Goose of our era.
They showed the Spruce Goose in the documentary. They didn't do so with any irony. The theme of shows like this is "Wow! Cool! Neato!" and not "This was probably not a good idea..."

For instance, no mention of the long and failed effort to get a rocket to launch from this aircraft. No mention that it was funded by a billionaire as his vanity project (clearly a similarity to Howard Hughes and the Spruce Goose, right?), or that he died, or that the company was folding and then re-launched itself. Nothing negative there. Just Giant Airplane Coolness.

The episode looks nice, however, so let's just go with that.

I'm not sure why people are surprised about this. It's just the nature of how these shows are made. They require a good deal of access and cooperation from the companies, and that usually comes with some degree of content control. Companies clearly don't want to cooperate if they feel they are going to be presented in a negative light, and word gets around, so a production team that gets a reputation for criticizing their subjects doesn't get invited to the next company that want to film. And obviously, the company employees are never going to be forthright about their problems -- they want to keep their jobs and keep the company in business.

I'm not surprised. I'm merely reporting on what the show depicted and what kind of show it is.

However, while I would not expect harsh criticism of the project, I was surprised that they left certain things out, like Paul Allen's involvement and his death. The project happened because of him, but as far as I can tell, he was not mentioned at all. And maybe that was the corporate PR flacks insisting on it. Maybe they went over the script and they did not want their eccentric billionaire compared to an earlier eccentric billionaire.

Now eventually what could happen is that some of this footage could end up in another documentary that addresses those kinds of things, but the people who filmed this one got access in return for not saying anything negative. Unfortunately, the majority of the people who watch this one are going to be left in the dark about the real story(ies).
 

Flyaway

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The episode is already available in the U.K. on demand from the Yesterday channel.
 

Flyaway

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View: https://twitter.com/thejackbeyer/status/1339389577979555841


Stratolaunch's massive carrier aircraft, known as the Roc, was on the runway for some low speed taxi tests today. Another box checked ahead of its next flight! @Stratolaunch @NASASpaceflight

View: https://twitter.com/thejackbeyer/status/1339399232420134914


Some photos from today's taxi testing. [thread] @Stratolaunch @NASASpaceflight
 

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aim9xray

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Impressive photo. Yours? That's a very unusual "Kodak Spot" for Mojave.
 

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Stratolaunch? Guys, you opened a whole new world for me. I never heard about this company, and as I see, it's quite successful.
 

blackstar

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Stratolaunch? Guys, you opened a whole new world for me. I never heard about this company, and as I see, it's quite successful.


No it isn't. Billionaire Paul Allen created the company to launch spacecraft. It was very much an ego-driven project (I think it should have been called "Egolauncher").

(See something I wrote about this back in December 2012: https://www.thespacereview.com/article/2198/1 )

Bezos had Blue Origin and Musk had SpaceX, and it was clear that Allen wanted his own rocket company, but he wanted something unique. The origins of the company are probably interesting--somebody sold him a bill of goods, convincing him that a big airplane could launch a big rocket. Nope, the airplane really constrains the size of the rocket, and also makes it almost impossible to upgrade the rocket.

Then there was a sort of rocket comedy as Stratolauncher tried to find a rocket that it could launch. At one point SpaceX was onboard, with a 5-engine rocket (I think it was called the Falcon 5). But then SpaceX dropped out, because the company did not want to compete against itself. I think there was another company onboard for a while (Orbital?), then they dropped out. Then they put out artwork showing the Roc aircraft carrying three small Pegasus rockets. Because the Pegasus launch rate has been something like one launch every 18 months, there was no way anybody would launch three at one time. So that made no sense.

Then Allen died. They flew the plane once, which was really a memorial to the rich guy who built it. Then the company folded. Then it was resurrected and they announced that they were going to use the plane to launch hypersonic research vehicles.* I don't think this makes much sense either, but there's a lot of DoD money going into hypersonics, so that probably gave them some money to keep going, and to keep investors interested. But I don't see how this is going to work long-term. That big airplane is not cheap to keep flying. Count the number of engines. Imagine the insurance costs.




*I might have the chronology a bit wrong, but you can look all that up. Those are the basic facts.
 

RanulfC

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Stratolaunch? Guys, you opened a whole new world for me. I never heard about this company, and as I see, it's quite successful.


No it isn't. Billionaire Paul Allen created the company to launch spacecraft. It was very much an ego-driven project (I think it should have been called "Egolauncher").

(See something I wrote about this back in December 2012: https://www.thespacereview.com/article/2198/1 )

Bezos had Blue Origin and Musk had SpaceX, and it was clear that Allen wanted his own rocket company, but he wanted something unique. The origins of the company are probably interesting--somebody sold him a bill of goods, convincing him that a big airplane could launch a big rocket. Nope, the airplane really constrains the size of the rocket, and also makes it almost impossible to upgrade the rocket.

Then there was a sort of rocket comedy as Stratolauncher tried to find a rocket that it could launch. At one point SpaceX was onboard, with a 5-engine rocket (I think it was called the Falcon 5). But then SpaceX dropped out, because the company did not want to compete against itself. I think there was another company onboard for a while (Orbital?), then they dropped out. Then they put out artwork showing the Roc aircraft carrying three small Pegasus rockets. Because the Pegasus launch rate has been something like one launch every 18 months, there was no way anybody would launch three at one time. So that made no sense.

Then Allen died. They flew the plane once, which was really a memorial to the rich guy who built it. Then the company folded. Then it was resurrected and they announced that they were going to use the plane to launch hypersonic research vehicles.* I don't think this makes much sense either, but there's a lot of DoD money going into hypersonics, so that probably gave them some money to keep going, and to keep investors interested. But I don't see how this is going to work long-term. That big airplane is not cheap to keep flying. Count the number of engines. Imagine the insurance costs.




*I might have the chronology a bit wrong, but you can look all that up. Those are the basic facts.

No I think you got the timing right :)

I don't think it was the "Falcon 5" (that was the original follow on of the Falcon 1 before Musk was convinced he needed actually get into the 'regular' satellite market and that a 'subscale' LV wouldn't have a market) i seem to recall it only had four engines. Musk wasn't 'on-board' from the start and I seem to recall was 'there' only because he was around trying to drum up investment from Alan for Tesla. It was rather obvious that Musk/SpaceX wasn't going to actually build anything.

People were surprised when the NEXT announcement was for the carry and handling system since you'd normally only start work on that once you already had a rocket :)

SpaceX officially dropped out and Orbital stepped up with what was essentially a "huge" Pegasus (solid) winged booster and a Centaur upper stage, (yes looked as weird as it sounded :) ) and a bit later simply forwarded the Pegasus itself while they "continued to work the design" of the other rocket but it simply wasn't really affordable unless someone else (Alan) footed the bills and he was tapped out with the Roc.

I also understand that it was his impression of White Knight One and Spaceship One that drove him towards the Roc design as he was impressed with Burt Rutan's "concepts" for a "Super-Spaceship" vehicle and all sorts of impressed with how WK/SS turned out. Alan considered sub-orbital "space tourism" a side track hence had no interest in WK2/SS2 and had a general idea of what most folks thought was the 'minimum' size for an air launched orbital rocket. Again hence the Roc but in fact that wasn't really true as you could use something as 'small' as a regular 747 for a decent (for a relative value of 'decent' of course :) ) orbital launch vehicle and frankly a smaller, more optimized design would have been both more affordable and more practical. (Crossbow for example) But by the time this stuff started getting any attention Alan was already committed to Roc and...

I agree that the hypersonic 'focus' is weird but in context it actually makes some sense given the new 'owner' (and investors) figured they had a pretty solid 'in' on the program with some high-placed "friends". Toss in the fact that the DoD is going to be spending money and it's not really a 'win-win' but it can be argued it's not going to lose all that much either.. I have a lot of doubts that Roc's going to be all the prominent as a testing platform but it makes good 'press' and keeps things moving so probably a couple more flights and maybe a captive carry but most likely hangered again to save costs and they will probably use a converted 747 in the end.

Or I could be all wet and "Talon" is actually a test vehicle for the future version of the TR/Black Ice Spaceplane and they are fooling us all :)

Randy
 

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1626894342799.png
ORIGINAL CAPTION: Talon-A’s upper skin is made from Out-of-Autoclave Bismaleimide carbon composite materials, a high temperature thermoset resin (Image: Stratolaunch)

California-based company Stratolaunch is developing testbeds to provide easier and cheaper access to hypersonic flight testing, the first of which is Talon-A.

The Talon vehicles will launch from the Stratolaunch carrier aircraft, which has a wingspan of 385ft (117m) and was originally developed as an aerial launch platform for satellites.

Talon-A is a reusable, autonomous, liquid rocket-powered Mach 6-capable hypersonic vehicle with a length of 28ft (8.5m), a wingspan of 14ft (4.3m) and a launch weight of approximately 6,500 lbs (2,948kg). The vehicle has been designed to provide more than 60 seconds of hypersonic flight test conditions and then glide back for an autonomous landing on a conventional runway.

Talon-A is planned to be ready for use next year and will be able to fly 12 missions a year.
 

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Just a simple pipe dream, start up the x33 venture star program again and launch it from the stratolaunch.
You can scale up the X33 startweight to 250 tons, so who nows it wil make it to orbit.
 

martinbayer

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Just a simple pipe dream, start up the x33 venture star program again and launch it from the stratolaunch.
You can scale up the X33 startweight to 250 tons, so who nows it wil make it to orbit.
The LM X-33 was an engineering abomination with a needlessly complicated non-cylindrical composite liquid hydrogen tank structure that ultimately tanked (pun fully intended) the concept. As I stated before in this forum, the Rockwell concept was the most logical and credible of the X-33 contenders, since it was based on real world Space Shuttle experience and a fairly conventional wing/body design. If you look at the evolution of the competing Lockheed and McDonnell Douglas designs, the Lockheed "Aeroballistic Rocket" over time started sprouting sizeable wings with winglets that belied the lifting body qualities, and both aerodynamic surface and body surface per (squashed instead of circular/cylindrical) body volume grew higher than that of a classical wing body design, while the nominally ballistic son of DC-X all of a sudden also needed wing stubs for reentry - a phenomenon that reappeared on Musk's BFR/Starship as well. I once did a quantitative comparative analysis of the two VTHL X-33 configurations by Rockwell and LM, and the Skunk Works design ended up having a larger combined wing and body wetted area (and associated structural mass) than the classical Rockwell cylindrical body with wings for the same design mission. If you want a sensible POD for an air droppable RLV design, the fairly recently aborted DARPA/Boeing XSP/XS-1 concept, which still had some of the Rockwell X-33 DNA baked into it, is IMHO currently your best bet. Stratolaunch is on the right track with their winged Black Ice concept.
 
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abheiden

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Just a simple pipe dream, start up the x33 venture star program again and launch it from the stratolaunch.
You can scale up the X33 startweight to 250 tons, so who nows it wil make it to orbit.
The LM X-33 was an engineering abomination with a needlessly complicated non-cylindrical composite liquid hydrogen tank structure that ultimately tanked (pun fully intended) the concept. As I stated before in this forum, the Rockwell concept was the most logical and credible of the X-33 contenders, since it was based on real world Space Shuttle experience and a fairly conventional wing/body design. If you look at the evolution of the competing Lockheed and McDonnell Douglas designs, the Lockheed "Aeroballistic Rocket" over time started sprouting sizeable wings with winglets that belied the lifting body qualities, and both aerodynamic surface and body surface per (squashed instead of circular/cylindrical) body volume grew higher than that of a classical wing body design, while the nominally ballistic son of DC-X all of a sudden also needed wing stubs for reentry - a phenomenon that reappeared on Musk's BFR/Starship as well. I once did a quantitative comparative analysis of the two VTHL X-33 configurations by Rockwell and LM, and the Skunk Works design ended up having a larger combined wing and body wetted area (and associated structural mass) than the classical Rockwell cylindrical body with wings for the same design mission. If you want a sensible POD for an air droppable RLV design, the fairly recently aborted DARPA/Boeing XSP/XS-1 concept, which still had some of the Rockwell X-33 DNA baked into it, is IMHO currently your best bet. Stratolaunch is on the right track with their winged Black Ice concept.
Well i am not going to the defend the LM X33 here, but to return to the idea to hung it under the Stratolaunch.
The LM X33 had one bonus thing going that it is much more stubby and less bending.
The Rockwell X33 and the XS 1 was much longer cylindrical wich you have to reinforce and add weight much more if you launch it horizontal with loaded fuel tanks from the Stratolaunch.
 

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Bottom line is that the X-33 was an engineering failure, so I'd rather go with a conventional cylindrical fuselage that may or may not weigh a little more than a pie in the sky lifting body complex multilobe design that demonstrably failed. And if your design fails, it does not matter whether it theoretically has lower bending properties. Once again, note that Stratolaunch has chosen a wing-body design for their Black Ice reusable orbiter concept, and I'm pretty sure they're aware of the whole X-33 saga.
 
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Byeman

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Just a simple pipe dream, start up the x33 venture star program again and launch it from the stratolaunch.
You can scale up the X33 startweight to 250 tons, so who nows it wil make it to orbit.
The LM X-33 was an engineering abomination with a needlessly complicated non-cylindrical composite liquid hydrogen tank structure that ultimately tanked (pun fully intended) the concept. As I stated before in this forum, the Rockwell concept was the most logical and credible of the X-33 contenders, .
Not true
 

martinbayer

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Just a simple pipe dream, start up the x33 venture star program again and launch it from the stratolaunch.
You can scale up the X33 startweight to 250 tons, so who nows it wil make it to orbit.
The LM X-33 was an engineering abomination with a needlessly complicated non-cylindrical composite liquid hydrogen tank structure that ultimately tanked (pun fully intended) the concept. As I stated before in this forum, the Rockwell concept was the most logical and credible of the X-33 contenders, .
Not true
Taking into account the widely evidenced actual fact records as for example decribed at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_Martin_X-33, what exactly is your supporting documented evidence for your simpleton unsubstantiated bald-faced two word counter factual assertion?
 
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Byeman

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Just a simple pipe dream, start up the x33 venture star program again and launch it from the stratolaunch.
You can scale up the X33 startweight to 250 tons, so who nows it wil make it to orbit.
The LM X-33 was an engineering abomination with a needlessly complicated non-cylindrical composite liquid hydrogen tank structure that ultimately tanked (pun fully intended) the concept. As I stated before in this forum, the Rockwell concept was the most logical and credible of the X-33 contenders, .
Not true
Taking into account the widely evidenced actual fact records as for example decribed at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_Martin_X-33, what exactly is your supporting documented evidence for your simpleton unsubstantiated bald-faced two word counter factual assertion?
My statement is just as valid and substantiated as yours that the "Rockwell concept was the most logical and credible".
 

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