Northrop Grumman Extends Its Commercial Space Portfolio

Dec. 23, 2011
Recently Announced Stratolaunch Project Will Revolutionize Space Transportation
REDONDO BEACH, Calif., Dec. 22, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Northrop
Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) expanded its commercial space portfolio
with Stratolaunch Systems' recent selection of Scaled Composites, a
Northrop Grumman subsidiary, to build the largest aircraft ever
constructed. This is the latest example of the company's innovative
solutions to challenging problems. Scaled Composites is developing an
air-launch system for Stratolaunch Systems, which is a Paul G. Allen
project that will revolutionize space transportation by providing
orbital access to space at lower costs, greater safety and increased
"This private spaceflight initiative represents a significant leap
forward in defining technologies today which will open doors tomorrow
for affordable commercial space transportation," said Paul Meyer, vice
president and general manager of advanced programs and technologies for
Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. "Whether it be manned and unmanned
aircraft, space systems or advanced technologies, we are focused on
developing innovative solutions that enable the growth of the aerospace
With a gross takeoff weight of more than 1.2 million pounds, the
carrier aircraft will have a wingspan of 385 feet -- greater than the
length of a football field -- and takeoff and land from a runway that
is at least 12,000 feet long. Using six 747 engines, the aircraft will
fly over 1,300 nautical miles to reach an optimal launch point for
10,000 pound-class payloads. The development work will take place in
Mojave, Calif.
The Stratolaunch project marks the next step in space travel that began
with the development of SpaceShip One, the first privately funded
manned spacecraft to fly beyond the earth's atmosphere.
SpaceShip One and its carrier aircraft, White Knight, were developed
through a joint venture between investor Paul Allen and Scaled
Composites, which was founded by Burt Rutan and later acquired by
Northrop Grumman. On June 21, 2004, SpaceShip One made its historic
flight to space and four months later, was the first private manned
spacecraft to exceed an altitude of 328,000 feet twice within 14 days,
earning it the prestigious $10 million Ansari X-Prize. The technology
behind SpaceShip One has since been leveraged into efforts with
business entrepreneur Richard Branson of Virgin Group to create a space
launch system for Virgin Galactic, a venture that will take paying
customers into suborbital space.
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