Near Term Reusable Rocket Launch Vehicle Concepts 670378
In recent years substantial resources have been expended by USAF and NASA to develop a broad technology base applicable to launch vehicles. A spectrum of reusable first stage launch vehicles using this technology base has been explored and the economic, operational and performance characteristics compared. The systems investigated are all vertically launched, two-stage-to-orbit rocket powered vehicles having fully recoverable first stages with glide hypersonic entry and airplane type subsonic flyback. The second stages are existing expendables, all engines are from the existing inventory and current structural-materials-fabrication-techniques are used. A specific vehicle is selected, defined, and shown to have economic merit. A major result of the study was to show that current technology could be applied to a reusable rocket launching system with significant economic benefits.