Those launch vehicles are still in their "design study" phase, and the first one was supposed to debut in 2022. The company has already tested a central component of its hydrogen and oxygen-powered rocket engine named after its founder , it is called PGA for Paul G. Allen, but it seems that the project will not be completed anymore.
A spokesman said in a statement sent to the publication:
"Stratolaunch is finalizing the development of its family of launch vehicles and rocket engines, we are simplifying operations, focusing on the aircraft and our ability to support the demonstration launch of the Northrop Grumman Pegasus XL air launch vehicle. of what we have achieved and we expect the first flight in 2019. "
According to reports, Stratolaunch has let 50 employees go and only retains 20 to continue working on its giant plane and prepare it for the first test flight sometime this year. The huge double-fuselage plane, which weighs 500,000 pounds and has a wingspan of 385 feet, was designed to carry smaller launch vehicles and their payload as satellites attached to their belly. It is meant to be a reusable launch vehicle, which flies its payload high enough and then releases it in full flight.
Unfortunately, the spokesman did not give details about why the company is reducing its operations, but the costs of keeping the company running could have something to do with it. As GeekWire The founders of other aerospace corporations have been using their own money to finance their space dreams. Both Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson, for example, have invested around $ 1 billion in Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, respectively.