Space firm founded by billionaire Paul Allen sold to new owner

by ace

SEATTLE (Reuters) – Stratolaunch Systems Corp., a space company founded by the late billionaire and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O), co-founder Paul Allen, said on Friday he was continuing operations after the ownership transition, but did not name the new owner.

PHOTO: The world's largest aircraft, built by Paul Allen's Stratolaunch Systems, makes its first test flight in Mojave, California, USA on April 13, 2019. REUTERS / Gene Blevins / File Photo

The company, a unit of Allen Vulcan Inc's private investment vehicle, was developing a fleet of launch vehicles, including the world's largest aircraft, to send satellites and eventually humans into space.

Allen, who founded Stratolaunch in Seattle in 2011, died at age 65 in October.

Reuters reported in May that the company was exploring the sale of its assets and intellectual property during the closing process. Reduced the number of employees.

"Stratolaunch LLC has changed ownership and continues regular operations," an email spokeswoman said.

She declined to provide details beyond the brief announcement, which also said her "short-term launch vehicle development strategy" focuses on testing reusable rocket-powered vehicles and associated flight services.

He said the company will continue operations under the new owner with a mission that "will bring the carrier's aircraft operations and testing program into the company."

Allen's Stratolaunch had been compared to other billionaire-supported space ventures, including Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit, which is developing a similar but lower altitude launch system to profit from the growing demand for bringing small satellites into orbit. .

While Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart told Reuters in July that his company had argued with Stratolaunch about its desire to sell, Virgin Orbit was not the buyer, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said.

The centerpiece of Stratolaunch's strategy was its 117-meter (384-foot) carbon-powered transport plane powered by six engines. The plane first flew in April.

The decision to set an exit strategy was made late last year by Allen's sister Jody Allen, president of Vulcan Inc. and administrator of the Paul G. Allen Trust, industry sources told Reuters.

Jody Allen decided to let the aircraft fly to honor her brother's wishes and also to prove that the vehicle and concept worked, the sources said.

Eric M. Johnson's report in Seattle; Editing by Chris Reese and Bill Berkrot

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