Reusable Upper Stage OTV
The next major step is the
Orbit Transfer Vehicle or Space Tug, to ferry satellites from LEO to GEO.
In-space refueling enables OTVs to carry out many missions. OTVs render the
expensive cryogenic third-stage of many GEO launchers, superfluous. A much
smaller orbit correction engine and a supply of fuel is all that is needed,
with the OTV performing the LEO-GEO delivery. In the short term, this would
hurt the manufacture of third-stage engines, but in the longer term, the demand
for OTVs should more than replace the lost business. Here the emphasis is on
the engine rather than the fuel. The idea is to provide high-thrust upper-stage
engines that will take satellites from LEO to GEO, and then leave them there with
only low-thrust, high Isp orbit correction engines for the rest of their
lifetime (with the possibility of reboost/refuel). The engine then comes down
and is reused. The number of engine firings is limited by material degradation.
The impact on customer cost is the drastic reduction in launch cost per unit
payload delivered to LEO, since the mass of the upper stage engine, the boost
fuel, and the risk associated with first-time operation of a new cryogenic
engine, are all avoided. The fuel is delivered in LEO, at the cost negotiated
Isp of 460 seconds[i].
Revenue per boost - $25M
Development Cost - $100M
Cost per 3rd stage[ii]: $20M
Maintenance - $10M
Operation - $10M per boost + $5M/yr for flight control services.
Lifetime: 50 burns.
Launch Costs determined by $26,000/kg to GEO (source: Futron[iii] , $13,000/kg to LEO)
Revenue starts decreasing by 5%, 20 years after start of company.
[i] Leisman, G. A., Joslyn, T. B., Siegenthaler, K. E. "CEV Architectures: Cost Effective Transportation System to the Moon and Mars". 1 September 2004.
http://www.usafa.af.mil/df/dfas/Papers/20042005/CEV Architectures Cost Effective Transportation System to the Moon and Mars - Joslyn.doc Viewed 22 August 2006.
[ii]Zak, A., Making
[iii]Futron Corporation. Space Transportation Costs: Trends in Price Per Pound to Orbit 1990-2000. 6 September
2002. 22 August 2006.