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Systems that do this exist and more are being introduced. It's just that they hide their appearance and look somewhat different to what would be expected from what you describe.

The 'Stratolaunch" system meets your description. You knew that.
The Stratolaunch 'mothership' has the largest wingspan of any aircraft ever built.

  • Orbital Sciences Corporation (now owned by Northrop Grumman) have been air launching the Pegasus satellite launcher since 1990 (almost 30 years).

  • Virgin Galactic's 'White Knight' One & Two craft - intended to carry dedicated suborbital craft are well known.

  • And, the 'new kid on the street' that meets your description is the 'Stratolaunch" system . You knew that. The Stratolaunch 'mothership' has the largest wingspan of any aircraft ever built.

This is the "first stage" :-)

enter image description here

Image from here


Surprisingly (perhaps) release height for launch vehicles is 'only' 35,000 feet (10,700 metres).
Launch payload is 225+ tons.

Stratolaunch had originally proposed the development of a range of launch craft but in early 2019 announced that these plans had been abandoned and that they were intending to launch existing Pegasus XL launchers.

Wikipedia Stratolaunch Systems

enter image description here

From here

Note the outline of Virgin Galactic's 'White Knight Two" on the above diagram. WK2 performs a similar role to 'Stratolaunch', but at a far smaller payload mass and with a dedicated payload.

While Stratolaunch originally proposed a range of craft that they intended to develop, in early 2019 they announced that these plans had been cancelled and that their sole payload initially would be the Northrop Grumman (previously Orbital Sciences Corporation) Pegasus air launched satellite launcher.

Pegasus payload

  • The Pegasus is an air-launched rocket developed by Orbital Sciences Corporation (now part of Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems after Northrop Grumman acquired Orbital ATK). Capable of carrying small payloads of up to 443 kilograms (977 lb) into low Earth orbit, Pegasus first flew in 1990 and remains active as of 2018. The vehicle consists of three solid propellant stages and an optional monopropellant fourth stage. Pegasus is released from its carrier aircraft at approximately 40,000 ft (12,000 m), and its first stage has a wing and a tail to provide lift and attitude control while in the atmosphere.

Prior "mothership"

  • Initially, a NASA-owned B-52 Stratofortress NB-008 served as the carrier aircraft. By 1994, Orbital had transitioned to their "Stargazer" L-1011, a converted airliner which was formerly owned by Air Canada. The name "Stargazer" is an homage to the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation: the character Jean-Luc Picard was captain of a ship named Stargazer prior to the events of the series, and his first officer William Riker once served aboard a ship named Pegasus.

L-1011 Stargazer launching Orbital ATK Pegasus XL rocket December 15th 2016. orbiting the CYGNSS spacecraft for NASA.

enter image description here

Video - release, ignition, ...

NASA page

Systems that do this exist and more are being introduced. It's just that they hide their appearance and look somewhat different to what would be expected from what you describe.

The 'Stratolaunch" system meets your description. You knew that.
The Stratolaunch 'mothership' has the largest wingspan of any aircraft ever built.

This is the "first stage" :-)

enter image description here

Image from here


Surprisingly (perhaps) release height for launch vehicles is 'only' 35,000 feet (10,700 metres).
Launch payload is 225+ tons.

Stratolaunch had originally proposed the development of a range of launch craft but in early 2019 announced that these plans had been abandoned and that they were intending to launch existing Pegasus XL launchers.

Wikipedia Stratolaunch Systems

enter image description here

From here

Systems that do this exist and more are being introduced. It's just that they hide their appearance and look somewhat different to what would be expected from what you describe.

  • Orbital Sciences Corporation (now owned by Northrop Grumman) have been air launching the Pegasus satellite launcher since 1990 (almost 30 years).

  • Virgin Galactic's 'White Knight' One & Two craft - intended to carry dedicated suborbital craft are well known.

  • And, the 'new kid on the street' that meets your description is the 'Stratolaunch" system . You knew that. The Stratolaunch 'mothership' has the largest wingspan of any aircraft ever built.

This is the "first stage" :-)

enter image description here

Image from here


Surprisingly (perhaps) release height for launch vehicles is 'only' 35,000 feet (10,700 metres).
Launch payload is 225+ tons.

Stratolaunch had originally proposed the development of a range of launch craft but in early 2019 announced that these plans had been abandoned and that they were intending to launch existing Pegasus XL launchers.

Wikipedia Stratolaunch Systems

enter image description here

From here

Note the outline of Virgin Galactic's 'White Knight Two" on the above diagram. WK2 performs a similar role to 'Stratolaunch', but at a far smaller payload mass and with a dedicated payload.

While Stratolaunch originally proposed a range of craft that they intended to develop, in early 2019 they announced that these plans had been cancelled and that their sole payload initially would be the Northrop Grumman (previously Orbital Sciences Corporation) Pegasus air launched satellite launcher.

Pegasus payload

  • The Pegasus is an air-launched rocket developed by Orbital Sciences Corporation (now part of Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems after Northrop Grumman acquired Orbital ATK). Capable of carrying small payloads of up to 443 kilograms (977 lb) into low Earth orbit, Pegasus first flew in 1990 and remains active as of 2018. The vehicle consists of three solid propellant stages and an optional monopropellant fourth stage. Pegasus is released from its carrier aircraft at approximately 40,000 ft (12,000 m), and its first stage has a wing and a tail to provide lift and attitude control while in the atmosphere.

Prior "mothership"

  • Initially, a NASA-owned B-52 Stratofortress NB-008 served as the carrier aircraft. By 1994, Orbital had transitioned to their "Stargazer" L-1011, a converted airliner which was formerly owned by Air Canada. The name "Stargazer" is an homage to the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation: the character Jean-Luc Picard was captain of a ship named Stargazer prior to the events of the series, and his first officer William Riker once served aboard a ship named Pegasus.

L-1011 Stargazer launching Orbital ATK Pegasus XL rocket December 15th 2016. orbiting the CYGNSS spacecraft for NASA.

enter image description here

Video - release, ignition, ...

NASA page

3 added 16 characters in body
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Systems that do this exist and more are being introduced. It's just that they hide their appearance and look somewhat different to what would be expected from what you describe.

The 'Stratolaunch" system meets your description. You knew that.
The Stratolaunch 'mothership' has the largest wingspan of any aircraft ever built.

This is the "first stage" :-)

enter image description here

Image from here


Surprisingly (perhaps) release height for launch vehicles is 'only' 35,000 feet (10,700 metres).
Launch payload is 225+ tons.

Stratolaunch had originally proposed the development of a range of launch craft but in early 2019 announced that these plans had been abandoned and that they were intending to launch existing Pegasus XL launchers.

Wikipedia Stratolaunch Systems

enter image description here

From here

Systems that do this exist and more are being introduced. It's just that they hide their appearance and look somewhat different to what would be expected from what you describe.

The 'Stratolaunch" system meets your description. You knew that.
The Stratolaunch 'mothership' has the largest wingspan of any aircraft ever built.

This is the "first stage" :-)

enter image description here

Image from here


Surprisingly (perhaps) release height for launch vehicles is 'only' 35,000 feet.
Launch payload is 225+ tons.

Stratolaunch had originally proposed the development of a range of launch craft but in early 2019 announced that these plans had been abandoned and that they were intending to launch existing Pegasus XL launchers.

Wikipedia Stratolaunch Systems

enter image description here

From here

Systems that do this exist and more are being introduced. It's just that they hide their appearance and look somewhat different to what would be expected from what you describe.

The 'Stratolaunch" system meets your description. You knew that.
The Stratolaunch 'mothership' has the largest wingspan of any aircraft ever built.

This is the "first stage" :-)

enter image description here

Image from here


Surprisingly (perhaps) release height for launch vehicles is 'only' 35,000 feet (10,700 metres).
Launch payload is 225+ tons.

Stratolaunch had originally proposed the development of a range of launch craft but in early 2019 announced that these plans had been abandoned and that they were intending to launch existing Pegasus XL launchers.

Wikipedia Stratolaunch Systems

enter image description here

From here

2 added 791 characters in body
source | link

Systems that do this exist and more are being introduced. It's just that they hide their appearance and look somewhat different to what would be expected from what you describe.

The 'Stratolaunch" system meets your description. You knew that.
The Stratolaunch 'mothership' has the largest wingspan of any aircraft ever built.

This is the "first stage" :-)

enter image description here

editingImage from here


Surprisingly (perhaps) release height for launch vehicles is 'only' 35,000 feet.
Launch payload is 225+ tons.

Stratolaunch had originally proposed the development of a range of launch craft but in early 2019 announced that these plans had been abandoned and that they were intending to launch existing Pegasus XL launchers.

Wikipedia Stratolaunch Systems

enter image description here

From here

Systems that do this exist and more are being introduced. It's just that they hide their appearance and look somewhat different to what would be expected from what you describe.

The 'Stratolaunch" system meets your description. You knew that.
The Stratolaunch 'mothership' has the largest wingspan of any aircraft ever built.

This is the "first stage" :-)

enter image description here

editing ...

Systems that do this exist and more are being introduced. It's just that they hide their appearance and look somewhat different to what would be expected from what you describe.

The 'Stratolaunch" system meets your description. You knew that.
The Stratolaunch 'mothership' has the largest wingspan of any aircraft ever built.

This is the "first stage" :-)

enter image description here

Image from here


Surprisingly (perhaps) release height for launch vehicles is 'only' 35,000 feet.
Launch payload is 225+ tons.

Stratolaunch had originally proposed the development of a range of launch craft but in early 2019 announced that these plans had been abandoned and that they were intending to launch existing Pegasus XL launchers.

Wikipedia Stratolaunch Systems

enter image description here

From here

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source | link