Allen: Stratolaunch Could Carry A Shuttle
As the huge Stratolaunch aircraft prepares for its first flight at Mojave, company founder Paul Allen is thinking about using it not just to deliver satellites to space, but perhaps also to carry an all-new space shuttle. “I would love to see us have a full reusable system and have weekly, if not more often, airport-style, repeatable operations going,” Allen told The Washington Post, in an exclusive interview last summer. The shuttle, which would be called Black Ice, would be similar in size to NASA’s shuttle, according to the Post. It could be launched from anywhere there’s a runway long enough for the Stratolaunch, and would be capable of flying to the International Space Station and completing missions at least three days long.
There are no near-term plans to use Black Ice to transport astronauts, according to the Post, though that could be possible in the future. It could carry supplies to the ISS and also could deliver satellites to orbit. Using the Stratolaunch as a delivery vehicle would eliminate the need for rocket launches, Jean Floyd, Stratolaunch Systems CEO, told the Post. “You make your rocket a plane,” Floyd said. “So you have an airplane carrying a plane that’s fully reusable. You don’t throw anything away ever. Only fuel.” Washington Post reporter Christian Davenport, who conducted the interviews, is working on a book about the “new space race.”