Encyclopedia Astronautica
LCLV


Various independently-funded launch vehicles have been advocated, designed, and even developed over the years. A lot of these are attempts to build low-cost launch vehicles using simpler technology. Often such projects begin based on a low cost liquid fuel technology but end up just trying to sell various combinations of Castor solid fuel stages. These enterprises often discover there's more to coming up with a reliable launch vehicle than slashing together a bunch of 'off the shelf' rocket motors and lighting the fuse.... On the other hand, if there is ever a breakthrough in less expensive access to space, it will come through one of these entrepreneurial schemes...

More... - Chronology...


Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Otrag $200 million was spent from 1975-1987 by Lutz Kayer in a serious attempt to develop a low-cost satellite launcher using clusters of mass-produced pressure-fed liquid propellant modules. The project was finally squelched by the German government under pressure from the Soviet and French. More...
  • Percheron American low cost orbital launch vehicle. Low cost commercial test vehicle. First test failed and satellite launch project sank for lack of further investors and customers. More...
  • Liberty American low cost orbital launch vehicle. Private commercial launch vehicle. More...
  • AMROC IRR American low cost orbital launch vehicle. Single stage vehicle. More...
  • AMROC American low cost orbital launch vehicle. The AMROC corporation proposed to develop low-cost hybrid-propulsion orbital launch vehicles in the 1980's. Actual flight hardware did not go beyond a small test vehicle. More...
  • LCLV American low cost orbital launch vehicle. As a result of TRW's review of the Truax/Aerojet Sea Dragon, TRW became so interested in the concept that they undertook studies of their own, which resulted in a design that became known as the 'Big Dumb Booster'. They proposed structural approaches that were even more conservative than Aerojet's, e.g., the use of T-180 steel instead of maraging steel, which would result in even heavier and cheaper tankage. TRW finally obtained USAF funding for fabrication of stage sections and demonstration of scaled-up versions of the TRW pump-fed Apollo Lunar Module ascent engine. The design promised low cost access to space using low technology (steel stages built to low tolerances in shipyards, pressure-fed engines, and low cost storable propellants). But yet again neither NASA or USAF showed interest in true cheap access to space. More...
  • EER Aries American low cost orbital launch vehicle. Aries launched to promote a commercial launch vehicle of entirely different configuration. More...
  • Kistler K-1 American low-cost orbital launch vehicle. The Kistler K-1 was a reusable two-stage launch vehicle developed by a prestigious team of ex-Apollo managers, designed originally for launch of Iridium-class communications satellites to medium altitude earth orbit. Kistler began development but had to file for Chapter 11 protection before detailed hardware fabrication was completed. It emerged from bankruptcy in 2005, and merged with suborbital startup Rocketplane to form Rocketplane Kistler. On 8 November 2006, it was announced that Alliant Techsystems, as lead contractor, would complete the K-1 launch vehicle, with Rocketplane Kistler as a subcontractor, under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. More...
  • Conestoga 1620 American all-solid orbital launch vehicle. Four stage vehicle consisting of 4 x Castor 4B + 2 x Castor 4B + 1 x Castor 4B + 1 x Star 48V More...
  • Beal BA-2 American low cost orbital launch vehicle. The Beal Aerospace BA-2 was a privately-financed heavy-lift commercial launch vehicle that used innovative technical solutions to achieve low cost to orbit. It harkened back to the low-cost Truax Sea Dragon or TRW 'Big Dumb Booster' concepts of the 1960's but added several new twists. Beal abandoned the project at the end of 2000 after the collapse of the MEO satellite market and active measures by NASA to support other, competing, more high-tech projects by the major aerospace contractors. More...
  • Ausroc Australian low cost orbital launch vehicle. Proposed southern hemisphere launcher. More...
  • Scorpius American low cost orbital launch vehicle. Family of sounding rockets and launch vehicles based on combining liquid oxygen/kerosene pressure-fed engine modules. Modest government funding and over a decade of development had still not resulted in a production contract as of 2006. More...
  • Falcon 1e Version of Falcon 1 with stretched first stage and much more powerful Merlin engine. More...
  • DARPA Falcon American low cost orbital launch vehicle. Lockheed Martin all-hybrid propulsion, mobile orbital launch system that could launch from an unimproved site with limited infrastructure on 24 hours notice, placing up to 840 kilograms into LEO More...
  • Falcon 5 American low cost orbital launch vehicle. Falcon V was a two stage, reusable, liquid oxygen and kerosene powered launch vehicle. The maiden flight was targeted for mid-2005 as of early 2004. It used of the same engines, structural materials and concepts, and avionics and launch system as the Falcon I, differing in having five first-stage engines instead of 1 and a larger diameter. This meant that all the critical components would have a flight proven history even before first launch. By 2006 it had been superseded by the slightly larger Falcon 9. More...
  • Nanosat Launch Vehicle American low cost orbital launch vehicle. Two-stage, reusable, liquid oxygen/ethane propellant launch vehicle using aerospike engine technology and capable of delivering 10 kilograms to a 250-kilometer polar orbit. The NLV would provide low-cost, dedicated launch services to universities and other research organizations that traditionally depend on secondary payload opportunities to access space More...
  • Quick Reach 2 American low cost orbital launch vehicle. Enlarged version of the Quick Reach launch vehicle proposed to launch the t/Space CXV manned spacecraft. The concept built on both Quick Reach and SpaceShipOne to produce a low-cost air-launched man-rated pressure-fed liqud oxygen/propane launch vehicle. More...
  • Falcon 1 American low cost orbital launch vehicle. Falcon I was a two stage, reusable, liquid oxygen and kerosene powered launch vehicle. A single engine powered the first stage. It was designed for cost-efficient and reliable transport of satellites to low Earth orbit. First launch of the Falcon I was scheduled for mid-2004 from Vandenberg, carrying a US Defense Department communications satellite. Development delays and problems with USAF clearances for launch from Vandenberg resulted in the first launch attempt being made in 2006 from a private facility at Omelek near Kwajalein atoll in the Pacific. Success was achieved on the fourth launch in 2008. The Falcon 1 was to be superseded by the Falcon 1e, with an extended-tank first stage, from 2010. More...
  • Falcon 9 American low cost orbital launch vehicle. In September 2006 SpaceX was named as one of two winners of the NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services competition. The SpaceX award was $278 million for three flight demonstrations of the Falcon 9 booster carrying the Dragon space capsule. On 23 December 2008 NASA announced that the Falcon 9 / Dragon had been selected for launch of a guaranteed minimum of 20,000 kg of payload to the International Space Station in 2010-2014. The firm contract was worth $1.6 billion, with another $1.5 billion of options. More...
  • Quick Reach 1 American low cost orbital launch vehicle. Low-cost air-launched pressure-fed liqud oxygen/propane launch vehicle developed under DARPA's Falcon program. More...
  • Quick Reach American low cost orbital launch vehicle. Family of low-cost space boosters under development by AirLaunch LLC under DARPA and NASA contracts in 2007-2008. More...
  • Falcon 9 Heavy American low cost orbital launch vehicle. The Falcon 9 Heavy would consist of a standard Falcon 9 with two additional Falcon 9 first stages as liquid strap-on boosters. More...

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