Technological Prospects for High Performance Spacecraft 680372
Many agencies are currently investigating the utility of maneuverable spacecraft, especially lifting vehicles, for a number of potential applications. Much of this effort has been directed toward the critical technical questions of performance and design; however, addendum activity has been associated with developing the supporting logic for maneuvering systems. It is shown that the basic concepts involved in the technology of reusable spacecraft represent, to a large extent, augmentation of X-20, ASSET, and PRIME efforts. An appraisal of the vehicles and operational tasks considered is presented and a possible alternate design point is postulated. Particular emphasis is placed on developing a conclusive rationale for advanced vehicles. The relationship of the stage and one-half or “tip-tank/spacecraft” concept to improving the economics from the standpoint of booster amortization and reusability is suggested. Some of the important implications of technology improvements are delineated and the RDT&E features associated with spacecraft with high performance efficiency are assessed relative to increased vehicle size.