THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF REUSABLE ORBITAL TRANPORTS ON THE COST OF PLANNED MANNED SPACE PROGRAMS, 1970-1999,
RAND CORP SANTA MONICA CALIF
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In a major earth orbital program involving the placing into orbit of approximately 72 million pounds between 1970 and 1999, it is more economical to use the current expendable Saturn IB and Saturn V launch vehicles than to develop and operate either a conventional or advanced reusable orbital transport. The reason for this is that even on an ambitious program there is insufficient payload to compensate for the high development cost of a reusable transport. This conclusion is also true if the Stage 1 and Stage 2 propulsion development costs were charged to another unrelated program. Assuming the reusable orbital transport were justified for other reasons the funding pattern for the development of the propulsion systems and air-frame between 1970 and 1980 exceeds that of the most optimistic program presently under consideration, that is, the landing of manned modules on Mars in 1984, a program in which the reusable orbital transport plays little or no role. The reusable orbital transports considered in this study are payload limited in both weight and volume. Out of a total of 72 million pounds, the ROT was able to accommodate only 21 million pounds, the remainder being launched by the Saturn V as is presently planned. Substitution of ROTs for Saturn Vs is not only infeasible in most cases but also uneconomical since seven reusable transports are necessary to match the same payload as a Saturn V class vehicle.
- Economics and Cost Analysis