The video shows the aircraft, with its six 747 engines and a wingspan greater than the length of a football field, sporting an Orbitial Sciences Corp. logo. Stratolaunch, which is based in Huntsville, Ala., officially tapped Orbital to build the rocket system after cutting ties with SpaceX last December.
The rockets, which launch into space from 30,000 feet in the air, were originally slated to be derivatives of SpaceX’s signature Falcon 9 rockets, which were used to launch the Dragon capsule into orbit on the first commercial supply mission to the International Space Station last year. Now, though, Stratolaunch has found a new partner in Orbital.
“By selecting Orbital as a key member of its team, Stratolaunch has employed the world’s expert in airlaunch systems to orbit, having pioneered the small-class Pegasus rocket over 20 years ago, which, together with derivative air-launch vehicles, have carried out over 50 missions for government and commercial customers,” Orbital Executive VP Frank Culbertson said in press release.
The carrier is expected to be operational by 2016 and greatly reduce the cost of access to outer space for payloads, and eventually, maybe people.
Previously on GeekWire: Paul Allen’s Stratolaunch opens giant hangar for world’s largest aircraft