An Economic and Technical Analysis of a Partially Reusable Space Vehicle System 670397
The operating costs of current space systems are examined briefly to determine the distribution of these costs through the major operational elements of the systems. For flight frequencies of between 5-20 flights per year, the system costs associated with recovery and reuse are examined to show where major savings are potentially achievable. The authors then describe the results of a feasibility analysis of a vehicle concept emphasizing recovery and reuse of the spacecraft and the simplification of the expendable elements. The latter is accomplished by incorporating the boost phase steering function in the spacecraft and using solid propellant motor booster stages.
A first order cost comparison with other current and projected concepts is then presented to indicate the separate effect on operating costs of launch vehicle propulsion type, spacecraft type, and steering techniques. The authors conclude with an enumeration of study results which indicate that the partially reusable head-end steering concept is technically feasible and cost effective.