MOSCOW, April 15. /TASS/. The United States’ experimental plane Stratolaunch, meant for the air launch of space rockets, which performed its first flight on April 14, can be used for putting in space not only civilian payloads, but also military ones, the editor-in-chief of National Defense magazine, Igor Korotchenko, told TASS.
"This is yet another means of putting payloads in space. Clearly, any civilian payloads can be replaced by military ones, if need be," Korotchenko said. At the same time he sees no risk Stratolaunch may be used as an attack platform, because the United States has quite a few other strike capabilities.
The United States provides systemic support for all space programs that will create various opportunities for domination in space, so Stratolaunch is among the priority projects.
"It is a means of giving the United States multi-factored opportunities for achieving space supremacy, bearing in mind that it was proclaimed as one of the strategic initiatives of the Donald Trump administration. Obviously, the United States uses this project for space expansion and for building up its capabilities to put different payloads in space," Korotchenko said.
On April 14, the experimental plane Stratolaunch meant for air-launching space vehicles performed its first flight. The plane climbed to a little more than 5,000 over the Mojave Desert. During the flight that lasted for 2.5 hours it developed a maximum speed of 304.17 km/h.
It is expected that that at the first stage the plane will carry one (eventually up to three Pegasus XL satellite launch vehicles) in the lower part of the fuselage. The plane consists of two 73-meter fuselages having a common wing of 117 meters. The carrier plane is powered by six Pratt&Whitney engines and a mass of 250 tonnes (in combination with the full payload, about 590 tonnes) and declared fuel endurance of up to ten hours.