Paul G. Allen Announces Revolution in Space Transportation

SEATTLE — 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.
The space flight revolution Allen and Rutan pioneered in 2004 with SpaceShipOne now enters a new era. Only months after the
last shuttle flight closed an important chapter in spaceflight, Allen is stepping in with an ambitious effort to continue America’s
drive for space.
“I have long dreamed about taking the next big step in private space flight after the success of SpaceShipOne – to offer a flexible,
orbital space delivery system,” Allen said. “We are at the dawn of radical change in the space launch industry. Stratolaunch Systems is
pioneering an innovative solution that will revolutionize space travel.”
Allen’s new company, Stratolaunch Systems, will build a mobile launch system with three primary components:
• A carrier aircraft, developed by Scaled Composites, the aircraft manufacturer and assembler founded by Rutan. It will
be the largest aircraft ever flown.
• A multi-stage booster, manufactured by Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies;
• A state-of-the-art mating and integration system allowing the carrier aircraft to safely carry a booster weighing up to
490,000 pounds. It will be built by Dynetics, a leader in the field of aerospace engineering.
Stratolaunch Systems will bring airport-like operations to the launch of commercial and government payloads and, eventually, human
missions. Plans call for a first flight within five years. The air-launch-to-orbit system will mean lower costs, greater safety, and more
flexibility and responsiveness than is possible today with ground-based systems. Stratolaunch’s quick turnaround between launches
will enable new orbital missions as well as break the logjam of missions queued up for launch facilities and a chance at space.
Rutan, who has joined Stratolaunch Systems as a board member, said he was thrilled to be back working with Allen. “Paul and I
pioneered private space travel with SpaceShipOne, which led to Virgin Galactic’s commercial suborbital SpaceShipTwo Program.
Now, we will have the opportunity to extend that capability to orbit and beyond. Paul has proven himself a visionary with the will,
commitment and courage to continue pushing the boundaries of space technology. We are well aware of the challenges ahead, but we
have put together an incredible research team that will draw inspiration from Paul’s vision.”
To lead the Stratolaunch Systems team, Allen picked a veteran NASA official with years of experience in engineering, management
and human spaceflight. Stratolaunch Systems CEO and President Gary Wentz, a former chief engineer at NASA, said the system’s
design will revolutionize space travel.
Former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin, also a Stratolaunch board member, joined Allen and Rutan at a press conference in Seattle
to announce the project. “We believe this technology has the potential to someday make spaceflight routine by removing many of the
constraints associated with ground launched rockets,” Griffin said. “Our system will also provide the flexibility to launch from a large
variety of locations.”
The Stratolaunch system will eventually have the capability of launching people into low earth orbit. But the company is taking a
building block approach in development of the launch aircraft and booster, with initial efforts focused on unmanned payloads. Human
flights will follow, after safety, reliability and operability are demonstrated.