Observations And Recommendations

This chapter has demonstrated the very large resources required to support the delivery of propellant for an operational infrastructure if conventional rocket launchers are used with conventional hypergolic rockets for space operations. It is required that sustained-use airbreathing launchers and nuclear space propulsion be developed into an operational system if an operational space infrastructure is ever to exist. The key to achieving an initial operating capability with an infrastructure is not to throw away valuable, and reusable, assets in lieu of very costly and long-delivery-time optimum solutions that have little tolerance or durability when encountering off-design conditions and unexpected events. Some of the uses a salvaged Shuttle main external tank can be put to have been identified by Thomas Taylor, namely:

(1) The emerging reusable launch vehicles will bring cost-effective transportation and commercial ventures to LEO.

(2) Salvaged hardware in orbit will provide commercial opportunities and transportation markets in LEO.

(3) Human-operated commercial services in orbit will emerge as the lower costs emerge.

(4) The transportation node in LEO is important to the commercial world, because the mode of transportation changes in LEO.

(5) The cost for countries interested in positioning on the trade routes of the future is lower than ever and will be commercial.

(6) A new method of cooperation between government and the private sector must be found.

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