Space exploration has been a fascinating journey. A milestone comprised of an unknown astronaut by the name of Neil Armstrong who took “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” as he stepped onto the moon. Then to think almost twenty years later we would witness no small disaster as the space shuttle Challenger exploded before our very eyes.
Perhaps that might have something to do with my fear of flying?
I am really quite content to keep my two feet planted on the ground, although I have flown countless times via liquid courage, with many flights crossing the North American continent and oceans to far away places. Yet I’ve never thought to grasp the concept of flight into space.
I present to you, the Stratolaunch plane!
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen (Money) is combining forces with maverick aeronautical engineer Burt Rutan (Brains) to build a space vehicle that will be able to transport passengers and cargo commercially into the atmosphere by the year 2016.
Why that’s only four years away. Ah, but that’s never going to happen, right?
You want to bet?
Though they have been talking about this for years, it is the amalgamation of the right set of circumstances that in this instance might just make this dreamlike fantasy become an incredible reality.
Money + Brains = Reality. That almost sounds scientific, like E=MC2.
Yeah right Karen. Get over yourself!
Most of us know who Paul Allen is right? But who is Burt Rutan?
This man is a Rocketstar super genius with five planes that hang in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum that include the Voyager, which in 1986 became the first airplane to fly around the world without refueling and SpaceShipOne that became the first private rocket plane ever to put man into space in 2004.
“There aren’t many names that are bigger within the aviation industry than Burt Rutan,” said British Billionaire Richard Branson who is behind Virgin Atlantic Airways and Virgin Galactic, his own spaceline based on Rutan’s rocket design. “He’s a larger than life character that brings a room to silence when he walks in.”
Well, that’s quite an endorsement!
So what will the Statolaunch be able to do?
One of the cool things that the Stratolaunch will be able to do is liftoff without the required launch pad. Instead, it will ascend to a predetermined elevation, then fire its rocket, blasting the plane into space.
It will be powered by six 747 engines that will be far more fuel efficient than traditional shuttle launches, since it will bypass the expense of standard rocket fuel needed to propel current shuttles up from the earth.
The new craft will be enormous, with a wingspan of 385 feet, making it larger than a football field, weighing in at 1.2 million pounds. And it will not be restricted by the many factors that normally dictate the space shuttle when it launches into space.
So are you ready to go? Are you ready to take off into space?
Because it’s going to happen. Allen and Rutan are competing with other private companies in a race to deliver people and goods to the International Space Station now that NASA has cancelled its space shuttle program and if all goes well, the plan is for the Statolaunch program to be involved with satellite transportation while promoting space tourism.
So come on…
Let’s go space truckin’.
So what do you think? Are you ready to go space truckin’? Can you imagine yourself on the ride of your life? The advantage of seeing the earth from out in space? To experience the feel of weightlessness? To boldly go where you’ve never gone before?
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Thank you for your many thoughts and fine comments everyone!