There is another launch platform using a similar format, from a smaller wide-body jet. Cant remember their name - somebody jump in with a link.
Great, just what we need, more satellites stealing my brain-thoughts, driving up my tin-foil-hat budget, ruining my social life, making my skin wrinkle and hair turn grey. . . .
Are you thinking of the Pegasus from Orbital Science (now Northrop Grumman) using a solid rocket booster launched from a Lockheed Tristar?
Yes that’s it –– Pegasus is the branding.
Fox one, indicates launch of a semi-active radar-guided missile.
Fox two, indicates launch of an infrared-guided missile.
Fox three, indicates launch of an active radar-guided missile.
I wonder what the Brevity Code is for, “I’ve just launched an orbital insertion vehicle”?
It would have to be FireFox… but “You must think… in Russian.”
Gant, can you fly that plane? Really fly it?
isn’t quaint that even high tech devices have patent drawings with little hand drawn scripty notations
There was Paul Allen’s Stratolaunch, which died with him. I think his sister is in charge of his assets now. They built a heavy lift launcher from two 747’s, but I think the actual rockets were to come from Scaled Composites. The shuttering of this firm seems like the right decision, but it was a dream of Allen’s.
I remember that concept with the dual 747 fuselages - it was not that. It was the small L1011 mid size wide body like plane with the missile under the fuselage.
Then probably the “Pegasus” ? I seem to recall there just wasn’t really a mission for that rocket…I think they were maybe hoping it to be an ASAT weapon candidate?? I dunno, long time ago
here is the wikipedia summary:
The original Stratolaunch was going to team up with SpaceX. It would have dropped a four or five engine version of the Falcon 9, but the partnership foundered when SpaceX realised it couldn’t devote resources to two variants of the Falcon 9.
The Orbital Sciences (later Orbital ATK, now Northrup-Grumman Innovation Systems) Pegasus was the word’s first privately-developed commercial orbital launcher, developed way back in 1982.
Its three solid-fuel stages, though similar to ICBM designs, were custom-designed for Orbital by Morton Thiokol (later bought by ATK, then part of Orbital ATK, now also a Northrup-Grumman division)., with a wing built by Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites.
It’s still operational today, but its limited capacity, very limited mission cadence (1-2 flights per year) and a price of about $50M per launch make it a very tough sell in today’s market.
(By contrast, LauncherOne is currently projected to cost $12M per launch, about the same as the Rocket Lab Electron, though they both carry less mass than the Pegasus.)
There are a couple other small-sat and microsat launchers that plan to launch smaller rockets from small (fighter-sized) carrier aircraft currently under development, and of course the now-revived Stratolaunch is looking to build a variety of launchers (including a small space place) to be dropped from its humongous Roc carrier aircraft, already flying.
And the USAF once tried dropping a Minuteman ICBM out the back of a C-130 cargo plane.
By and large, though, aerial drop launch isn’t a very promising method. Its obvious advantages are mostly negated by other less obvious factors.