New giant plane to launch people, cargo into orbit

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, right, shakes hands with former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin as aerospace pioneer Burt Rutan looks on following a news conference Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011, in Seattle. Allen and Rutan announced Tuesday they're building a giant airplane and spaceship to zip people and cargo into orbit. But unlike traditional rockets and government spaceships, the new commercial spaceship will drop from a high-flying airplane instead of blasting off from a launch pad. ((AP Photo/Elaine Thompson))

December 13, 2011 3:46:50 PM PST
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and aerospace pioneer Burt Rutan are building the world's biggest plane to help launch cargo and astronauts into space, in the latest of several ventures fueled by technology tycoons clamoring to write America's next chapter in spaceflight.

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