A Fully Reusable Orbital Launch Vehicle
C.A. Carrouche (1999), JBIS, 52, 169-174
A recoverable Orbital Launch Vehicle is proposed configured along the lines of a commercially successful, expendable launch vehicle. The reuseable lower stage is comprised of a single, Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster. The upper stage is propelled by a single Space Shuttle Main Engine and attains orbit with a 50,000 pound payload. The upper stage is further designed in such a way so that it can easily be reconfigured into a reentry vehicle whilst in orbit. Having survived reentry but while still high in the atmosphere, the vehicle then divides into two separate components. Taking full advantage of serendipity, it is discovered that both components are naturally shaped in such a way so that each part is capable of surviving the impact of landing upon the ocean’s surface, thus solving the paramount problem to reuseability.