An artist's concept of the Stratolaunch carrier aircraft. Image source: Stratolaunch.com.
Florida Today reports that Stratolaunch is progressing towards a possible test flight from the Kennedy Space Center runway as soon as 2017.
“That is our current thinking, yes, that we intend to come there,” said [CEO Gary] Wentz, a University of Central Florida graduate who began his engineering career at KSC before moving to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., where Stratolaunch is headquartered.
“We’d like to conduct a demo mission from the Cape, so all the planning that we’re doing right now would focus that effort there at Kennedy,” he said.
Kennedy’s wide, three-mile runway and distance from population centers are good fits for Stratolaunch’s early flight operations, though other locations may be considered, Wentz said.
Stratolaunch and SpaceX recently agreed amiably to end their partnership, as SpaceX did not want to retool its Falcon 9 rocket assembly line for horizontal launches. Stratolaunch will now partner with Orbital Sciences, which has horizontal launch experience with its Pegasus rocket.