Encyclopedia Astronautica
Lockheed Space Taxi



sys3.jpg
Recoverable Booster
Credit: NASA
American manned spaceplane. Study 1963. Lockheed investigated the economics of reusable launch vehicles for crews and light space station cargo during the early 1960s. Lockheed proposed a new reusable 10-man spaceplane as a follow-on to the Apollo CSM.

Lockheed investigated the economics of reusable launch vehicles for crews and light space station cargo during the early 1960s. Anticipated space activities in the 1970s included a two-phase Earth-orbital space station program, a lunar base, and early Mars mission plus later Mars/Venus mission... Since the baseline "System I" 6-man Apollo CSM/Saturn-IB vehicle appeared to be uneconomical as a high-volume manned transportation system even if the crew capsule could be reused 10 times, Lockheed proposed a "System II" that would have retained the Saturn IB booster but replaced the Apollo with a new reusable 10-man spaceplane. This third stage spaceplane was standard for Systems III & IV as well.

The fully reusable options were a "System III" HTHL TSTO rocketplane & "System IV" airbreathing HTHL TSTO ramjet-rocketplane. System IV was otherwise identical to System III but used a different booster aircraft with in-flight LOX collection + ramjet propulsion Both vehicles would be launched from a ground accelerator sled and fly orbit-once-around missions to deploy the small DynaSoar-like interorbital third stage "space taxi" containing the crew & cargo.

The System III & IV requirements were as follows: 95% mission reliability (0.1% vehicle attrition rate). 2950kg payload & 10 passenger capability. 7.5 day min. turnaround between missions (11-23 days nominal). Mission life of 500 flights. Flight rates of 100-300 missions per year in 1973-80. The estimated costs were in the $6.8M (50 flts/yr.)-$1.275M (400 flts/yr.) range. These figures were in FY 1964 dollars; the inflation-adjusted cost in 1999 would be $6.85M - $36.5M per flight. System III & System IV appeared to be equally cost competitive, but the development cost/risk would be lower for the all-rocket booster concept depicted above.

As for the low flight rate options, System II would have cost $0.6 billion (1964 $) for 250 passengers/year vs. $0.95 billion for the System I Saturn/Apollo since the manned spacecraft could be reused 500 times vs. only ten reuses for the Apollo capsule.

Masses: System III booster (161.750t dry / 646.823t gross) & orbiter (33.475t / 167.376t). Orbiter would perform "orbit once around" after deploying Dyna Soar type mini-shuttle (7166kg / 12700kg). System IV was otherwise identical but used a different booster aircraft with in-flight LOX collection + ramjet propulsion (113.4 t / 217.724t mass).

Crew Size: 10.

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Associated Countries
See also
Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Recoverable Booster Systems for Orbital Logistics American winged orbital launch vehicle. Lockheed investigated the economics of reusable launch vehicles for crews and light space station cargo during the early 1960s. Anticipated manned space activities in the 1970s included a two-phase Earth-orbital space station program, a lunar base, an early Mars mission, plus later Mars/Venus missions. Lockheed proposed four possible launch systems to support the scenario, ranging from System I, a 6-man Apollo CSM/Saturn-IB vehicle, to a fully reusable System IV with a ramjet-rocket booster. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Lockheed American manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Lockheed Martin, Sunnyvale, CA, USA. More...

Bibliography
  • Bailey & Kelly, "Potential of Recoverable Booster Systems for Orbital Logistics", Astronautics & Aeronautics, 1964/January/p.54.

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