The competition heats up: Stratolaunch is now considering widening its options for the upper stage that can be attached to its giant airplane.
[Chuck Beames, president of Seattle-based Vulcan Aerospace, the parent company of Stratolaunch Systems] said the interest in alternative launch options is driven by the growing interest in small satellites, for which the current Stratolaunch system is oversized. A smaller vehicle, he said, could be developed more quickly and less expensively. “It takes a more near-term focus on revenue generation,” he said.
Stratolaunch could eventually support several launch vehicles, he said, with varying payload capabilities to serve different customers. “We’ll likely have multiple launch vehicle options,” he said. “Some will be available earlier than others.”
It appears they are revising their launch system airplane into a modular design with a variety of upper stages, depending on customer. Note also the focus on the growing small satellite industry.
From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.
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