Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Space: "Paul Allen’s Stratolaunch gets mysterious new owner"

From Everett Washington's Herarald.net, October 12:

One year after the billionaire founder’s death, the company listed 10 new jobs, including two in Seattle.
Stratolaunch, a giant six-engine aircraft with the world’s longest wingspan, makes its historic first 
flight from the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California, on April 13. Founded by the late 
billionaire Paul G. Allen, Stratolaunch is vying to be a contender in the market for air-launching 
small satellites. (AP Photo/Matt Hartman, file)
Stratolaunch was advertised as a way to make launching satellites as routine as operations at an airport.

Now, just six months after the massive rocket-launching plane finally took its first flight over California’s Mojave Desert — and a year after billionaire founder Paul Allen’s death — the company has a new owner.

Stratolaunch said Friday that it has “transitioned ownership” but will be continuing regular operations. In the near term, the company said in a statement, it will focus on providing rocket-powered testbeds and “associated flight services.”

The company did not say who its new owner is. Two people familiar with the matter said, without providing further specifics, that it is a group of investors.

A spokeswoman for Stratolaunch declined to comment on the date of the sale, terms of the deal or where the new owner is based. Jean Floyd remains chief executive, a role he has held since 2015.
Testing and operation of the massive carrier aircraft will now be done in-house, Stratolaunch said.

Previously, Mojave, Calif.-based Scaled Composites, a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman Corp., built and test flew the plane. It’s unclear where Stratolaunch will do that work, but the company put up at least 10 job listings on LinkedIn in the last month for positions including systems safety engineer, test pilot and quality manager. Of those 10 jobs, eight were located in Mojave and two in Seattle.
Allen, the Microsoft co-founder who started Stratolaunch, died last year from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Stratolaunch was a passion project of Allen’s. He said in 2011 as he unveiled plans for the plane that he hoped it would give future children “something to search for in the night sky and dream about.” After his death, there was much speculation about the project’s future....