SSTO RLVs: More Global Reach? A Study of the Use of Single Stage to Orbit Reusable Launch Vehicles as Airlift Platforms.
AIR FORCE INST OF TECH WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB OH
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The US military must think creatively to exploit potentially useful developing technologies in the pursuit of national security. Single Stage to Orbit SSTO Reusable Launch Vehicles RLVs are currently under cooperative development by NASA, the Air Force, and the aerospace industry in the pursuit of assured commercial and national access to space. The transportation elements of DoD Air Mobility Command and USTRANSCOM have the opportunity to exploit these rapid transit technologies to advance Global Reach for America. The SSTO RLV is a single stage rocket that will be completely reusable, similar to an aircraft, yet deliver a C-130 size cargo anywhere on the planet in less than one hour. Industry, Air Force, and NASA sources were investigated to assess the projected capabilities and costs of the SSTO system. This paper reviews the proposed capabilities of the SSTO system, discusses the current status of the development and test program, compares the proposed capabilities with current DoD and commercial transportation modes and costs, and recommends that Air Mobility Command, as airlift agent for USTRANSCOM and DoD as a whole, should pursue development and limited acquisition of SSTO RLVs for use as airlift platforms.
- Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies
- Unmanned Spacecraft