The Air Force has canceled funding for future phases of its Reusable Booster System (RBS) Pathfinder program to develop a flyback reusable lower stage. Above: a concept by Lockheed Martin, one of three companies what won funding for initial concept design work for the program. (credit: Lockheed Martin)

What is the future of the RLV?

by Jeff Foust
Monday, November 26, 2012

A decades-long goal of the space community, from engineers to policymakers to advocates, has been the development of reusable launch vehicles (RLVs). From an operational perspective, this emphasis makes perfect sense: after all, in most other modes of transportation, like cars, planes, and ships, we don’t throw away vehicles after a single use. A reusable launch vehicle could allow for far lower per-flight costs than existing, expendable rockets, as the manufacturing costs could be amortized over dozens or even hundreds of flights. This, in turn, could dramatically alter the economics of spaceflight by opening up markets not accessible at current launch costs or those that require transportation to and from orbit.

Read more: The Space Review: What is the future of the RLV?.

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