Commercialization Possible

Research and Exploration

Electro-rn agn et ic exploration

Commercialization Exploration limited limited by focus on by the reliance on expendable rockets chemical rockets and derived from military the avoidance of ballistic missiles rather nuclear power to our than sustained-use Solar System, long-life, maintained Limited to near Earth vehicles analogous with solar-powered craft, to commercial aircraft

Figure 2.21. The result is that the potentials were never developed and impediments were sufficient to prevent any further hardware development of a truly sustained-use space launcher.

Steve Wurst of Access to Space LLC has recovered some of the historic hardware from the "bone yard'' of The Marquardt Company, as its property was being sold in bankruptcy, and transformed it into a modern combined cycle access to space launcher concept on private financing. Access to space launcher concepts do not fit the preconceived concepts of the government and, short of turning the project into a government-sponsored program with government control, the project remains in the shadows. However, the over abundance of nay-sayers and skeptics, and the lack of dreamers continues to prevent the realization of a transportation system to space. We are left with Space Conestoga Wagons and have yet to see the "railroad to Space''. As indicated in Figure 2.21, progress toward the future in both Earth-based launchers and space exploration appears to be impeded by the acceptance of the status quo. The key to breaking this stalemate is a propulsion system integrated into a sustained-use vehicle that can provide routine, frequent flights and advance our space capabilities. The X Series of aircraft proved that even high-speed research aircraft could be operated frequently and safely. And this despite the need to air launch these aircraft from a modified B-50 in the early flight operations and later the modified B-52. Nuclear submarine reactors are reported to outlive the hull, and are without nuclear accident. In space nuclear-electric propulsion is a vital necessity if we are ever to travel significant distances in meaningful time. The missing elements are the dreams, determination and resources analogous to those that were committed to the building of the transcontinental railroad [Ambrose, 2000]. In many respects the challenges are less daunting although the environment is a great deal harsher.

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