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Photo via Vulcan Aerospace.
The Stratolaunch carrier vehicle under construction in the hangar at the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, Calif. Photo via Vulcan Aerospace.

Paul Allen wants to make commercial space travel more convenient and less expensive, and today he launched Vulcan Aerospace to help achieve those goals.

Paul Allen won't be on the test flight for the Stratolaunch
Paul Allen.

Vulcan Aerospace is a new company from Allen’s investment arm headed up by Chuck Beames, the executive director of Stratolaunch Systems, a commercial space venture backed by Allen that launched in 2011.

Beames announced the initiative today, and in a blog post he said Vulcan Aerospace is “an innovative approach to the commercial space industry,” one that is “focused on improving the convenience and reducing the cost of space access for the entrepreneur.”

Beames noted that the focus is on a collaborative ecosystem called “NextSpace,” which began with the creation of Stratolaunch Systems.

“Access to space is also expensive and inconvenient, with significant constraints in launch range and operation infrastructure,” he wrote. “Vulcan Aerospace wants to support a collaborative ecosystem.”

Vulcan Aerospace builds on what Allen has already pushed forward with Stratolaunch, a company which is developing the world’s largest plane — with six 747 engines and a wingspan greater than the length of a football field — that will launch rockets into space from 30,000 feet in the air by 2016. Instead of the traditional orbital launch model, Stratolaunch uses a carrier aircraft that acts a mobile launch range.

“Stratolaunch’s ability to launch from variable locations will enable satellites and humans to be efficiently inserted into their most optimal orbit at a time of the customer’s choosing,” Beames noted. “Launching far away from populated areas also significantly improves safety. Flexibility will be even greater when the Stratolaunch system is adapted to launch various types of launch vehicles.”

Beames, Allen, and the Vulcan Aerospace team clearly have big ambitions to make space travel more accessible.

“Much like the migration of the integrated circuit chip from its use in warehouse-sized mainframe computers to hand-held mobile devices has altered the course of modern life, Vulcan Aerospace believes versatile, low-cost access to space will do the same for the expansion of the physical boundaries of humankind,” Beames wrote.

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