Law, College of


Date of this Version



Background Paper. OTA-BP-ISC-60 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, January 1990). Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 89-600776


Several major DOD and NASA programs are seeking ways to reduce the costs of launching spacecraft. However, it typically costs much, much more to build a spacecraft than to launch it into a low orbit. Therefore, unless the costs of building spacecraft are reduced, even dramatic reductions in costs of launching to low orbit would reduce total spacecraft program costs by only a few percent. This background paper examines several proposals for reducing the costs of spacecraft and other payloads and describes launch systems for implementing them. It is one of a series of products of a broad assessment of space transportation technologies undertaken by OTA at the request of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. In 1988, OTA published the special report Launch Options for the Future: A Buyer's Guide and the technical memorandum Reducing Launch Operations Costs: New Technologies and Practices. In 1989, OTA published the background paper Big, Dumb Boosters: A Low-Cost Space Transportation Option? and the special report Round Trip to Orbit: Human Spaceflight Alternatives. A summary report on space transportation, entitled Access to Space to be published in the spring of 1990, will be the final report in the space transportation series. In undertaking this effort, OTA sought the contributions of a wide spectrum of knowledgeable individuals and organizations. Some provided information; others reviewed drafts. OTA gratefully acknowledges their contributions of time and intellectual effort. OTA also appreciates the cooperation and assistance of the Air Force and NASA. However, OTA is solely responsible for the content of this background paper and the other OTA publications.

Lionel S. Johns, Assistant Director, OTA Energy, Materials, and International Security Division
Alan Shaw,lnternational Security and Commerce Program Manager (from March 1989)
Peter Sharfman,lnternational Security and Commerce Program Manager (through February 1989)
Ray A. Williamson, Project Director (jrom February 1989)
Richard DalBello, Project Director (through January 1989)
Michael B. Callaham, Principal Analyst
Eric O. Basques (through August 1989)
Gordon Law
Administrative Staff: Jackie Robinson & Louise Staley