Sad news from Seattle tonight,
Statolaunch Systems has announced that they will be cutting engine and aircraft operations. The company confirmed that they cut several programs and have left people go.
This comes after Paul Allen passed away three months ago. “Stratolaunch is ending the development of their family of launch vehicles and rocket engine," the firm said in an emailed statement. It is unknown what the future of the company looks like since Allen was the funder of the company. GeekWire reported that about 50 people were being laid off, leaving another 25 to work on the Stratolaunch, a six-engine, two-hulled aircraft. The LinkedIn professional networking site lists 65 Stratolaunch workers, many of them hired within the past year.
Last August, Stratolaunch announced with great fanfare it would have a new family of three space launch vehicles, saying it it intended some of them to enter into service starting in 2020. In November, it announced tests of a core part of its rocket engine. Sadly the company has now said they have abandoned both those efforts, concentrating on its partnership with Pegasus, an air-launched rocket developed by Orbital Sciences Corp. which was acquired by Northrop for $7.8 billion in 2017. Though Stratolaunch said it continues to look forward to a first flight at some point in 2019.