Orbital ATK to supply Pegasus launchers to Stratolaunch

by | Oct 7, 2016 | commercial launch services | 0 comments

Stratolaunch Systems and Orbital ATK announced, on 6 October, that Orbital would be supplying Pegasus XL air-launch vehicles for use on the in-development Stratolaunch carrier aircraft. The deal was described as a “multi-year production-based partnership”, which will see Orbital supply multiple Pegasus XL launchers to Stratolaunch.

This may revive interest in Orbital’s Pegasus XL vehicle, which has seen little activity in recent years. At the time of writing, the Pegasus XL had just two upcoming launches, the eight spacecraft CYGNSS mission in late-2016 and the NASA ICON spacecraft in mid-2017. Stratolaunch Systems had previously stated that its immediate goal was to launch a mission by the end of the decade.

Having access to the Pegasus XL launcher will greatly aid the company in achieving that goal. The experience of the Pegasus vehicle should help alleviate concerns that prospective customers may have about the new Stratolaunch tender. 

Previously Orbital and Stratolaunch were working together to design a new dedicated air-launch vehicle called Thunderbolt. This vehicle would have been larger than the Pegasus XL, as represented in the concept image released with the Stratolaunch statement. This depicts the Stratolaunch carrier aircraft with three Pegasus XL vehicles attached. It is unclear exactly what the current status of the Thunderbolt vehicle is: whether development has been stopped completely, or remains in progress but is taking longer than anticipated and required an immediate solution, hence the Pegasus vehicle.


About Seradata

Seradata produce the renowned SpaceTrak Launch & Satellite Database. Trusted by 100 of the world’s leading Space organisations, SpaceTrak is a fully queryable database used for market analysis, failure/risk assessment, spectrum analysis and space situational awareness (SSA).

For more information go to www.seradata.com/spacetrak

Related Articles

Air-Launch back in vogue as Exolaunch signs MoU with Virgin Orbit while Stratolaunch jet makes first flight

The German-based launch arranger Exolaunch (formerly known as ECM Space) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with start-up launch Read more

Stratolaunch ditches development plans for its own launch vehicles

When Stratolaunch announced that it was developing its own range of launch vehicles in addition to its very large double Read more

On a sadder note: Co-founder of Microsoft and space investor Paul Allen dies at 65…as does Nazi nuclear plan saboteur Joachim Ronneberg

The Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma form of cancer finally claimed the life of Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft with Bill Gates, at the Read more

ICON to fly on Pegasus air-dropped launch vehicle

NASA  has announced firm-fixed price launch services agreement with Orbital Sciences Corp for the launch of its ICON on board a Read more

Pegasus XL is selected for CYGNSS eight-sat mission

NASA has announced that its Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) will be launched by an air-launched Orbital Sciences Corp' Read more

Orbital ATK Antares 230 launches the CYGNUS OA-8 cargo craft to the ISS

An Antares 230 medium launch vehicle has carried the Cygnus OA-8 (Gene Cernan) resupply mission to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) Read more

Minotaur C launches ten small commercial satellites as it is allowed to

While Minotaur launch vehicles are not normally allowed to launch commercial space satellites, the Minotaur C, which is actually a Read more

Northrop Grumman announces its intention to buy Orbital ATK for US$9.2 billion

Northrop Grumman Corporation, the US defence and aerospace company, is acquiring Orbital ATK (OATK) for US$9.2 billion. The completion of Read more