Proceedings of the RAND Project AIR FORCE Workshop on Transatmospheric Vehicles
RAND CORP SANTA MONICA CA
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Transatmospheric vehicles TAVs are envisioned as a new type of reusable launch vehicle that could insert payloads into low earth orbit or deliver them to distant targets within minutes. Such a vehicle may be able to carry out several types of military, civil, and commercial missions. In past decades, a number of military TAV concepts have been proposed, but a complete operational vehicle has never been built. The promise of TAVs is that because of their reusability they could launch payloads at much lower cost than existing rockets. In addition, if they were operated more like aircraft and less like rockets, they could enable responsive and flexible space operations, features that would be useful for a number of military missions. This report summarizes the proceedings of a workshop and subsequent research into questions raised at the workshop. We examine potential missions and their implications for vehicle design, cost, and size. A variety of contractor TAV design concepts were presented and discussed, including designs currently being developed for the NASA X-33 and X-34 programs.
- Unmanned Spacecraft