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The Impact of Lower Launch Cost on Space Life SupportThe development of commercial launch systems has substantially reduced the cost of space launch. NASA's Space Shuttle had a cost of about $1.5 billion to launch 27,500 kg to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), $54,500/kg. SpaceX's Falcon 9 now advertises a cost of $62 million to launch 22,800 kg to LEO, $2,720/kg. Space launch costs were very high for decades, typically about $20,000/kg, and it was understood that this high launch cost made it necessary for long human missions to recycle water and oxygen to reduce logistics mass. Short missions such as Apollo or Shuttle used stored and resupplied life support materials, but for a much longer mission such as the International Space Station (ISS), recycling saves logistics mass and reduces launch cost. The Life Cycle Cost (LCC) will be computed for resupply logistics and for a recycling system similar to that on the ISS. The LCC includes the costs of development, launch, and operations. The new low launch cost makes open loop life support much cheaper than before. Direct logistics resupply would be less costly than recycling for future human missions, such as a long term moon base, a Mars mission, or a future space station in LEO.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Ames Research Center
Document Type
Conference Paper
Jones, Harry W.
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
October 30, 2018
Publication Date
September 17, 2017
Subject Category
Launch Vehicles And Launch Operations
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Meeting: AIAA Space and Astronautics Forum (2018 AIAA SPACE)
Location: Orlando, FL
Country: United States
Start Date: September 17, 2018
End Date: September 19, 2018
Sponsors: American Inst. of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 089407.01.21
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
life support
Launch cost
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