"Entrepreneur and philanthropist Paul G. Allen announced today that he and aerospace pioneer Burt Rutan have reunited to develop the next generation of space travel. Allen and Rutan, whose SpaceShipOne was the first privately-funded, manned rocket ship to fly beyond earth's atmosphere, are developing a revolutionary approach to space transportation: an air-launch system to provide orbital access to space with greater safety, cost-effectiveness and flexibility."
Keith's note: The press conference was live tweeted today on Twitter at @NASAWatch. Alas, despite an elaborate media telecon - the existence of which was, itself, embargoed, the dozens of media who dialed in were not allowed to ask questions. That said, it looks like a cool idea. If they can hang a half million pound satellite launcher off of this, imagine what sort of suborbital passenger carrying vehicle it could carry.
Scaled Composites and SpaceX have a track record - even if Dynetics does not (Check out their non-existant background in integrating large space launch systems). Clearly the weight will be placed on Scaled and SpaceX to make this work. Again - they have experience.
"The Huntsville, Ala., company, named Stratolaunch Systems, promises to bring "airport-like operations to the launch of commercial and government payloads and, eventually, human missions." The company plans for a first flight within five years. In a news conference Tuesday, Rutan and former NASA chief Mike Griffin said they joined Stratolaunch as board members. Along with Allen, the trio introduced the company's novel idea of launching payloads into orbit aboard what would be the largest aircraft ever flown."
"Their plans, unveiled Tuesday, call for a twin-fuselage aircraft with wings longer than a football field to carry a rocket high into the atmosphere and drop it, avoiding the need for a launch pad and the expense of additional rocket fuel."
"The plane will be built by Scaled Composites LLC, the Mojave, California, company founded by Rutan; the multistage booster rocket based on the Falcon 9 will come from by Hawthorne, California-based Space Exploration Technologies Corp., also known as SpaceX; and the integration system will be provided by Dynetics Inc., based in Huntsville, Alabama."