Affordable transportation systems are what make civilizations possible. It has been that way throughout human history. The same is true of space. Without an affordable way of getting into space, a program of sustained human space exploration that has the potential of growing into a spacefaring civilization will remain an unobtainable dream.
You can see the truth of this in the total number of launches per year. The total number of launches to orbit per year worldwide averages somewhere between 80 and 90. It has been that way for the last 30 years. Based on this, space is not a growth industry. In addition, most of those launches are Earth-orbiting satellites. The total number of manned flights for the same period has averaged about 5 per year and none of those went higher than low Earth orbit.
When you think about those numbers in terms of a sustained program of human space exploration that has the potential of growing into a spacefaring civilization, it becomes clear that we are not even close to getting started. For that to happen, we need to dramatically increase our flight rate.
Equally obvious is the fact that this isn’t going to happen based on NASA’s plans for manned spaceflight over the next decade and beyond.
The reason for this is the high cost of spaceflight.
Now imagine what will be possible once we have affordable to everyone spaceflight.
We can return to the Moon, go asteroid mining, go to Mars, and start building the most incredible civilization the world has ever seen. A civilization that will include planets, moons, asteroids, space-based industries, and space colonies scattered throughout the solar system.
People will be able to buy a ticket to an orbiting hotel for a weekend getaway. People will be able to go to the Moon for their vacation. People will be able to get jobs in space and buy a home on a space station or a space colony. People will be able to build their own spacecraft in their spare time and either go asteroid mining or go homestead an asteroid. It will also be possible to buy a ticket for a trip to Mars or the asteroid belt.
The possibilities are truly unlimited. The only limits will be your imagination, your courage, and how hard you are willing to work to make it happen.
Without affordable to everyone spaceflight, none of this is possible and all we can do is talk about it.
Not too long ago I presented the idea of a combination launch system to a group of space advocates. A combination launch system is a launch system that can be affordably built with existing materials and technology that will make spaceflight affordable to everyone. It works by reducing the amount of apparent velocity the launch vehicle needs to achieve to reach orbit. This allows the launch vehicles to be built 1/10th the size of existing launch vehicles and to be made as single stage vehicles that can make multiple flights per day. It is a system that will open up the high frontier for everyone.
My presentation generated a lot of interest, excitement, and discussion in the group. The next day, in response to that interest, the group leader got up on stage and said, “We are not interested in how we get into space, we are only interested in what comes after!”
I was truly surprised by how much applause he got for that statement. His statement also brought the discussion about the combination launch system to a complete halt.
My question to everyone is simple, “is it really that difficult to understand that affordable to everyone spaceflight is the true foundation that will allow the human race to become a spacefaring people?”
In my experience, it is not possible to build anything without a proper foundation in place, and affordable to everyone spaceflight is the foundation for our becoming a spacefaring people.
Today’s rockets, including the partially reusable ones from SpaceX, will never get the cost of spaceflight down to an amount that will make spaceflight affordable to everyone. They are too big, too expensive, their flight rate is too low, their planned operational life is too short, and their payload fraction is too small. To make spaceflight affordable to everyone it will be necessary to use a different approach. That is what a combination launch system is. It is a different way of getting into space that is based on existing technology that will solve all those problems and make spaceflight affordable to everyone.
If manned space exploration and the building of a spacefaring civilization is something that interests you I hope you will continue reading the articles on this website. Once you are done with that I would like you to consider writing a letter to President Trump or to Vice President Pence about making the building of a combination launch system part of NASA, or the soon to exist Space Force.
It is time for us to do this.
It is time for us to be greater than great.
It is time to make our dreams of the future into reality.
Note: For those of you who are new to this website, this site is about making spaceflight affordable to everyone so we can finally start building the most incredible civilization the world has ever seen. A civilization that will include planets, asteroids, moons, space-based industries, and space colonies throughout the solar system. For those of you who are fans of space exploration but are new to the subject, the best way to read this site is to start at the beginning and read through to the most current article. If you are already familiar with the subject then feel free to jump around.
Index of Articles
- Opening the High Frontier
- Skyhook, a Journey to Orbit and Beyond
- In the Beginning . . .
- Why do Rockets Cost so Much?
- Combination Launch Systems
- It’s All About Speed!
- Visions of the Future
- The Call of an Unlimited Future
- Combination Launch Systems, part 2
- Outward Bound: Beyond Low Earth Orbit
- and someday . . . Starships!
- Mars: how to get there
- Outpost Space Stations
- Dreams of Space
- The Moon or Mars?
- Skyhooks and Space Elevators
- Stratolaunch and the X-15
- Starship Congress
- Making Spaceflight Affordable
- How a Combination Launch System Works
- Starship Conference 2017
- New Worlds Conference 2017
- Opening the High Frontier
- Building a Spacefaring Civilization
- Skyhooks, Space Elevators and Space Exploration
- Vertical Accelerator Launch Tower
- Combination launch system
- Opening the High Frontier (the Book)