Reuters is reporting that Stratolaunch Systems, the rocket launch company founded by the late Paul Allen, will be closed after unsuccessful efforts to sell it. Allen, who died at 65 last October, teamed up with Scaled Composites founder Burt Rutan to create the launch system, which was to use a massive six-engine aircraft to carry rockets to 40,000 feet for the launch. The Stratolaunch aircraft flew for the first time in April. Reuters based its story on five anonymous sources and the company declined comment on the report.
Stratolaunch was poised to compete with Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin and SpaceX in the crowded commercial space launch business. Virgin’s basic system is similar to Stratolaunch’s but uses a Boeing 747-400 as the launch aircraft. Blue Origin and SpaceX use earth-launched rockets. Stratolaunch said its system was less costly and more reliable than conventional systems because it didn’t need elaborate ground facilities and can launch in most weather.