The Tip Tank Concept: An Economic Orbital Transportation System 670226
A major step forward in economical near-earth orbital transport capability can be achieved through the “Tip Tank Concept,” based on the development of an integrated launch/re-entry vehicle with a high-degree of reusability. It consists of a long slender vehicle which carries all launch, orbital and re-entry subsystems for subsequent reuse -- plus low cost, lightweight, “throw-away” propellant tanks attached to the sides of the vehicle. With this configuration, it is possible to achieve orbit, utilizing present-day technology, without requiring any additional booster.
The integration of the boost propulsion system into the vehicle is a developmental problem which should be solvable utilizing existing booster technology. The operational costs of the tip tank orbital transport system are shown to be approximately one-fourth of the operational costs of a system using an expendable booster such as Titan IIIC with a reusable spacecraft.