A new paper by David Ashford entitled ‘The Aviation Approach to Space Transportation’ has been published this month in the August 2009 of the Aeronautical Journal of the Royal Aeronautical Society.
The Aviation Approach to Space Transportation shows how the cost of the first lunar base could be reduced by about ten times if priority were given to spaceplane development. The key argument is that operational prototypes of reusable launch vehicles can be built in experimental workshops, leading to great reductions in development cost. You cannot do this with expendable vehicles intended for human spaceflight because of their poor safety record.
To get launch costs down, we have to start thinking aeroplane rather than missile. The paper recommends that Ares 1 be replaced by a spaceplane and that Ares 5 should be designed to be fully reusable. The main point of the paper is to show how these changes could greatly reduce costs while hardly affecting timescales.
Within about fifteen years, the cost of science in space could approach that of science in Antarctica, and visits to space hotels could be affordable by middle-income people prepared to save.
This paper has also been submitted to the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee, chaired by Norman Augustine, for their consideration. To read or download the paper, click here or see the Library section.