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A Status of the Advanced Space Transportation Program from Planning to ActionA Technology Plan for Enabling Commercial Space Business was presented at the 48th International Astronautical Congress in Turin, Italy. This paper presents a status of the program's accomplishments. Technology demonstrations have progressed in each of the four elements of the program; (1) Low Cost Technology, (2) Advanced Reusable Technology, (3) Space Transfer Technology and (4) Space Transportation Research. The Low Cost Technology program element is primarily focused at reducing development and acquisition costs of aerospace hardware using a "design to cost" philosophy with robust margins, adapting commercial manufacturing processes and commercial off-the-shelf hardware. The attributes of this philosophy for small payload launch are being demonstrated at the component, sub-system, and system level. The X-34 "Fastrac" engine has progressed through major component and subsystem demonstrations. A propulsion system test bed has been implemented for system-level demonstration of component and subsystem technologies; including propellant tankage and feedlines, controls, pressurization, and engine systems. Low cost turbopump designs, commercial valves and a controller are demonstrating the potential for a ten-fold reduction in engine and propulsion system costs. The Advanced Reusable Technology program element is focused on increasing life through high strength-to-weight structures and propulsion components, highly integrated propellant tanks, automated checkout and health management and increased propulsion system performance. The validation of rocket based combined cycle (RBCC) propulsion is pro,-,ressing through component and subsystem testing. RBCC propulsion has the potential to provide performance margin over an all rocket system that could result in lower gross liftoff weight, a lower propellant mass fraction or a higher payload mass fraction. The Space Transfer Technology element of the program is pursuing technology that can improve performance and dramatically reduce the propellant and structural mass of orbit transfer and deep space systems. Flight demonstration of ion propulsion is progressing towards launch. Ion propulsion is the primary propulsion for Deep Space 1; a flyby of comet West-kohoutek-lkemura and asteroid 3352 McAuliffe. Testing of critical solar-thermal propulsion subsystems have been accomplished and planning is continuing for the flight demonstration of an electrodynamic tether orbit transfer system. The forth and final element of the program, Space Transportation Research, has progressed in several areas of propulsion research. This element of the program is focused at long-term (25 years) breakthrough concepts that could bring launch costs to a factor of one hundred below today's cost or dramatically expand planetary travel and enable interstellar travel.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Lyles, Garry (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL United States)
Griner, Carolyn (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL United States)
Date Acquired
August 19, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1998
Subject Category
Space Transportation and Safety
Meeting Information
International Astronautical Congress(Melbourne)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.