Re: cheap space flight

Michael Lorrey (
Sat, 16 Nov 1996 13:36:48 -0500

Lyle Burkhead wrote:
> > The basic design includes graphite-epoxy fuel tanks, a pressurized
> > delivery system, rather than fuel pumps, and a simple combustion
> > chamber which is also made of composite materials. Microcosm
> > intends to extend the design to create increasingly powerful rockets.
> > With funding from the Department of Defense and NASA, it plans to
> > build launchers powered by several engines, each rated at 5000
> > pounds thrust, then scale these up to 20.000 pounds thrust per engine.
> >
> > "Our eventual goal is to be able to put 170 pounds into low Earth
> > orbit for $750,000, and 2200 pounds for under $2 million," says
> > Wertz. Providing funding continues, Microcosm hopes to launch the
> > first single stage rockets next year and launch to orbit within three
> > years.

WHile I would not terms this as "cheap" space flight, if their engines
actually work on a launcher, it would be less expensive than current
systems. People don't realize this, but it takes as much energy to get
into low earth orbit as it does to fly to Australia from New York. Given
this, and allowing for the different performance regieme of a space
vehicle, true "cheap" space transporation would be tickets to orbit at
$2000-$5000 per person. Instead, we've got a government screwed up
system that makes $1000 a pound seem like a bargain.