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Stratolaunch Systems

Imagine if booking a launch for a satellite were as simple as using Hipmunk to reserve air travel, and you’re beginning to realize the potential of the Stratolaunch model. Instead of sending rockets into space from a launchpad, the Stratolaunch Carrier, nicknamed the ROC, will take off from a runway and, while soaring in mid-air, blast off rockets from underneath its enormous wing (it has the longest wingspan of any aircraft ever built, and is powered by six 747 engines). One of the biggest advantages to using an air-launch system is that the ROC can fly around inclement weather—it has a 2,000-mile range—which makes it far less likely that a blastoff will need to be rescheduled. The first test flights will begin in 2017, with the goal of a commercial launch in 2020.

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