Tutorial:Air Launch To Orbit
Ever wanted to launch a jet aircraft from the runway, and successfully deploy a payload into orbit? Well now you can!
Advantages: At the height of launch, less drag and gravity means drastically smaller Delta-V requirements for the rocket. Therefore, it can be smaller, lighter, and carry a larger payload.
Disadvantages: The aircraft must be capable of carrying the rocket off the runway to proper altitude and speed. A tradeoff must be made between either aircraft size or rocket weight.
Your aircraft should be capable of reaching 15-20 km altitude, and traveling at a speed between 750-1000m/s at release.
Realistically, the drop payload should be no more than 1 or 2 stages.
Dropping the rocket without impacting the aircraft is difficult. If you are using strap-on jet engines, consider adding Sepratrons to blow them away at stage separation. Alternatively, you could house the rocket below the body of the aircraft at drop, or anchor it above the craft, adding winglets to allow a rapid climb.