March 1, 2015

Something Wonderful: Orbital

"Any orbit. Any time."

Inside The Roc's Lair | On Space

Built for Stratolaunch by Scaled Composites, the Roc will be the largest aircraft ever made with a wingspan of 385 ft. This compares to 320 ft for the Hughes H-4 Hercules (Spruce Goose), 290 ft for the six-engined Antonov An-225, 262 ft. for the Airbus A380, and 225 ft. for the Boeing 747-8. Powered by six reconditioned Pratt & Whitney PW4056 engines salvaged along with other parts from two ex-United Airlines Boeing 747-400s, the twin-fuselage carrier aircraft resembles a vastly enlarged version of the Scaled-built WhiteKnightTwo developed for Virgin Galactic.... Flight tests are scheduled to begin in around a year’s time, with initial launch operations starting in 2018. According to the latest information from Stratolaunch, the Orbital Sciences-built Thunderbolt will be 131-ft long, and weigh around 550,000 lb. Overall weight of the Roc and Thunderbolt will be 1.3 million lbs. The launch vehicle is designed to put 13,500 lb. into a 220 naut. mile, 28.5 degree (LEO) orbit. Payloads will be enclosed within a 16.4-ft diameter fairing. The three-stage vehicle will use ATK-provided solid rocket motors for the first and second stages, while the third will be powered by two liquid-fueled Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C engines.

Posted by gerardvanderleun at March 1, 2015 11:41 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

The private sector has picked up the ball that the government inevitably dropped. SpaceX is further along, and that vertically landing first stage of theirs is an amazing achievement.

It's exciting to be a kid again, even an old one like me!

Posted by: Brett_McS at March 2, 2015 2:48 AM

Being part of a manned payload would be quite a ride. After getting dropped from the plane you'd become near weightless until that first stage kicked in. Then you'd be slammed back in your seat by multiple G's as you shot out of the atmosphere.

Posted by: ThomasD at March 2, 2015 7:20 AM

The US space program is dead.

Long live the American space program!!

Posted by: leelu at March 2, 2015 7:31 AM

NASA could not design a system as shown. Their mission from obozone onward is muslim outreach.

Posted by: Terry at March 2, 2015 8:41 AM

Cool Beans!

The payload capacity is also large enough for a 2-3 person manned payload.

Posted by: Don Rodrigo at March 2, 2015 9:52 AM

re: "The payload capacity is also large enough for a 2-3 person manned payload." DR

Rocket pictured is not liquid fueled. Solid Rocket accelleration would be over 9 Gs sustained with lethal effects on humans onboard.

Dan Kurt

Posted by: Dan Kurt at March 3, 2015 8:11 AM


Correct, almost. I meant the capacity of any vehicle the aircraft could carry. And 9 Gs is not lethal, just not preferred. Ask any of the old geezers who rode rocket sleds to higher accellerations than that in the 50's.

Posted by: Don Rodrigo at March 3, 2015 10:53 AM

I assume "The Roc" is a reference to the mythical giant bird.

Posted by: Don Rodrigo at March 3, 2015 10:54 AM