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100 LBS TO Low Earth Orbit (LEO): Small-Payload Launch Options
MITRE CORP MCLEAN VA JASON PROGRAM OFFICE
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In this report, we examine the options for launching small payloads to Low Earth Orbit LEO. Small is taken as, approximately, mp1OO 1bm, or perhaps a small multiple of that. Various launch Options are considered including single- and multi-stage, ground- and air-launched rockets, as well as the potential advantages of an intermediate airbreathing boost stage. Fundamental constraints between payload-to-total mass ratio, in a variety of launch vehicles, reveal a simple scaling persisting to small payloads. As a consequence, similar lbm-to-LEO- injection costs can be expected to apply to all launch vehicles developed for the purpose. Such small-payload, small-total-cost launch options should be regarded as a technology-enabling development that may well spawn new defense, as well as civilian options, and markets. We recommend that such launch options be examined in sufficient detail to determine practical objectives and development paths to bring low-cost, small-payload launch systems to the military and the market.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE