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Jun 22, 2016, 12:02 AM
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Meanwhile in Mojave

The rumors of Paul Allen's death were greatly exaggerated. Stratolaunch is still around, though over the years they've lost all the partners who could have provided the rocket & slowed construction way down. Now, it's just a platform for carrying a large payload to 30,000ft. It can't fly higher, probably because of pressurization limits. It's shorter than a passenger jet but slightly wider. It's mane difference is being much lighter for its size.

If SpaceX bailed out years ago because of differing opinions, they've definitely bailed out of air launched rockets now. The Falcon 9 can reuse everything up to 5000mph & 224000ft. The stratolaunch can reuse everything up to 500mph & 30,000ft. The laws of physics have made vertically launched rockets cheaper than horizontally launched air breathers. Perhaps atmospheric drag costs more than the benefits of the Bernoulli effect. Orbit requires a lot more speed than lift, so it's more important to get above the atmosphere as fast as possible than get as high as possible with the least power.

Their other problem is no existing launch system can be bolted on the stratolauncher. There isn't enough money to invent a new rocket just for that, even with Janet Yellen hurling free money.

Interestingly, a review of all of the SpaceX stage separations showed higher speed with higher orbit, but lower altitude with higher orbit:

Orbcommmm LEO SUCCESS: 6012km/h 74km
JASON-3 POLAR FAIL: 6147km/h 66.5km
SES-9 GTO FAIL: 8325km/h 64.6km
CRS-8 LEO SUCCESS: 6608km/h 71km
JCSAT-14 GTO SUCCESS: 8355km/h 66.6km
THAICOM 8 GTO SUCCESS: 8343km/h 65.6km
Eutelsat/ABS GTO FAIL: 8361km/h 65.7km
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