"A new spacecraft has been successfully dropped off a launch jet into a vertical, midair blastoff position, an important innovation that could simplify future space launches. [See photos]"
Accelerating to orbital velocity will always be a rough ride if you do it by thrust alone. Orbital velocity is some 7000-8000 km/s, so the little bit of extra velocity you get from the freefall is pretty much nothing.
Escape velocity never changes.
It's alawys escape velocity.
ride my rocket