Geostationary Space Launch Vehicles and the U.S. Dilemma
NAVAL WAR COLL NEWPORT RI ADVANCED RESEARCH PROGRAM
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The U.S. commercial space launch program no longer dominates the world and is now playing catch-up with the worlds first commercial launch company, Arianespace. The effort to regain the lead in commercial space launch market has been hindered by declining Department of Defense budgets. President Clintons space policy prohibits expensive new launch vehicles and limits the Department of Defense to low-cost upgrades of existing launch vehicles. The U.S. government created the space sector and has an obligation to ensure a smooth and effective split from the emerging commercial space program. Until the ties are severed, the Department of Defense must consider commercial space launch interests when making decisions. Ariane has provided an excellent bench mark for the U.S. to base future launch vehicle upgrades. The 198 commercial satellite launches since 1965 have provided a significant amount of data that were used to critically compare space launch vehicles. The dilemma was that U.S. space launch vehicles were found to be economically superior to Ariane for specific military payloads, but were not effective at launching commercial satellites over a wide range of payload weights. Ariane advantages were identified and low-cost recommendations have been made. If the U.S. sets the target of first equaling and then surpassing Ariane, the U.S. could once again dominate the world commercial launch market. U.S. Space launch programs, Strategic Decisions to Regain World Dominance.