In the late 1960s and early 1970s, America used the Saturn V rocket to go to the Moon. The first stage of that rocket had an empty weight of 130,000 kilograms and carried 2,160,000 kilograms of propellant. It was used only once and then thrown away.
The second stage of the Saturn V had an empty weight of 40,100 kilograms and carried 456,100 kilograms of propellant. Like the first stage, this stage was used only once and thrown away.
The third stage of the Saturn V had an empty weight of 13,300 kilograms and carried 106,600 kilograms of propellant. This stage was also used once and thrown away.
The total empty weight of those three stages was 183,400 kilograms.
By comparison, a Boeing 747 has an empty weight of 183,000 kilograms. The 747 can fly 15 hours per day, 11 months per year, and has a useful life of 20 years. It also carries three hundred plus passengers per flight.
Each Saturn V made only one flight and carried only three passengers.
This is why spaceflight that is based on using expendable rockets costs so much.
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