Stratolaunch shutting down?

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According to a Reuters story today based upon anonymous sources within the company, Stratolaunch is about to cease operations.

The key quote from the article:

As of April 1, Stratolaunch had only 21 employees, compared with 77 last December, one of the four sources said. Most of the remaining employees were focused on completing the carrier plane’s test flight.

The decision to set an exit strategy was made late last year by Allen’s sister, Jody Allen, chair of Vulcan Inc and trustee of the Paul G. Allen Trust, one of the four people and the fifth industry source said. Jody Allen decided to let the carrier aircraft fly to honor her brother’s wishes and also to prove the vehicle and concept worked, one of the four people said.

If true, this is hardly a surprise. The company was never able to find a viable path to orbit. It had built a spectacular plane, but could not find a rocket for that plane to launch.



  • Cotour

    The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

    No matter how carefully a project is planned, something may still go wrong with it. The saying is adapted from a line in “To a Mouse,” by Robert Burns: “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.”

    You just never know.

  • wodun

    Hopefully, the work they have done will be sold to other companies who can find ways to use it.

    What if they built a structure in the center that allowed the rapid loading/unloading of container boxes? Fly in drop off the container carrying structure, hook up a new one, and fly off to the next destination.

    Maybe Bezos will buy it.

  • Edward

    I wish I were surprised by this news, but I have suspected that this venture had been a drain on Paul Allen and that his heirs were not enthusiastic enough about space to continue the work until it proved profitable or unprofitable.

    It is events such as this that makes me especially eager to wish good health to Jeff Besos and Robert Bigelow. They, too, are funding expensive operations that are on the verge of making a big difference in space access and in the space economy. I certainly hope that their endeavors are able to continue long enough to prove profitable or not.

    Other NewSpace companies are driven less by personality and more by operations or business opportunities. These include Sierra Nevada and SpaceX, although SpaceX may become less driven to get to Mars if anything were to happen to Elon Musk.

  • jburn

    Are we seeing the end of airplane assisted rocket launching? Both this company and Virgin are seeing their entire approach to space access superseded by advances in reusable rocket technology.

  • Terrence

    I was thinking that this might be the time Scaled Composite moved from earth to space with a rocket, however, I just found out the Scaled Composites was bought by Northrop Grumman. Is there any hope?

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