Microsoft co-creator and billionaire Paul Allen recently announced his plan to create a revolutionary airplane, dubbed Stratolaunch, capable of launching rockets into space but now questions are being raised about the project’s feasibility. “‘I don’t know that it’s a better way’ to launch payloads,” said former NASA administrator Mike Griffin. “It’s an approach which offers some very substantial operational flexibility, much reduced range requirements, freedom from a lot of the limitations that come from launching with land-based ranges.”
What’s the Big Idea?
If a giant revolutionary airplane can be made—the wingspan of Stratolaunch is longer than a football field—Allen’s team may be up to the task. Combining his personal wealth with Griffin’s advice and the engineering skills of Burt Rutan, the famed engineer who won the $10-million Ansari X PRIZE for designing what would become Richard Branson’s space tourism vehicle, a veritable dream team for space entrepreneurship has been created. Allen views the decrease of the government’s space budget as an opportunity for private investment.