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Northrop Grumman has expanded its commercial space portfolio with Stratolaunch Systems’ recent selection of Scaled Composites, a Northrop Grumman subsidiary, to build the largest aircraft ever constructed.
Scaled Composites is developing an air-launch system for Stratolaunch Systems, which is a Paul G. Allen project that they claim will revolutionise space transportation by providing orbital access to space at lower costs, greater safety and increased flexibility.
“This private spaceflight initiative represents a significant leap forward in defining technologies today which will open doors tomorrow for affordable commercial space transportation,” said Paul Meyer, Vice President and General Manager of Advanced Programs and Technologies for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. “Whether it be manned and unmanned aircraft, space systems or advanced technologies, we are focused on developing innovative solutions that enable the growth of the aerospace industry.”
According to Northrop, with a gross takeoff weight of more than 1.2 million pounds, the carrier aircraft will have a wingspan of 385 feet and takeoff and land from a runway that is at least 12,000 feet long. Using six 747 engines, the aircraft will fly over 1,300 nautical miles to reach an optimal launch point for 10,000 pound-class payloads. The development work will take place in Mojave, California.
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