Over the past few spans, government, as well as private entities, have invested billions of dollars in the chasse for affordable access to space through earth-to-orbit (ETO) space transportation systems. A significant portion of that investment has been centered on the design and operation of different types of reusable transportation systems. From space shuttle to recent determinations by private investors, the predominant motive of those making such investments has mainly been that recycling transportation systems elements will be a more cost-effective option compared to using expandable systems where you will get rid of expensive engines, avionics and other hardware with every flight. Nonetheless, the understanding that reusable systems are in the end, a better strategy for offering ETO transportation is not a standard view among major stakeholders within the realm. While the technical viability of at least some level of reusability has been exhibited, a lively debate still lingers regarding the merits and weaknesses of reusable space transportation systems versus expandable systems from an economic point of view.
The thought and period of reusable space transportation were flagged off by the Space Shuttle in 1981. In point of fact, the Space Transportation System or Space Shuttle comprises of a reusable Orbiter, and Solid Rocket Boosted attached to a disposable external tank. Significant effort was needed to examine, test and make the Orbiter and Solid Rocket Boosters for their subsequent flight. At present, some airspace companies are salvaging and reflying their rockets the first stage with a few between-flight maintenance and others flew their spacecraft five times with least support between flights. However, a more recent system like the Sratolaunch and DARPA’s XS- 1 is centered on recyclable first stages. Nevertheless, this only tackles the Earth to Orbit operation leg.
Ultimately, all space transportation system will follow the reusable approach. Organizations like the Cislunar Space Development Company, LLC, aims at designing two forms of reusable in-space transportation vessels. One is the space tugs which works between low earth orbit and Earth-Moon Lagrange Point 1; this is a gravitational balance point between the Earth and the moon. Moon shuttles, the other transportation vehicle flies between Earth-Moon Lagrange Point and the surface of the moon.
Reusable in-space transportation system requires a point to refilling their propellant tanks, and acquire their next payload. At the outset, the space tugs will accompany a propellant tanker from Earth to replenish its reservoirs and then obtain a client’s payload and send it to the GSO or Earth-Moon Lagrange Point 1. In the long run, a refueling station, or LEO transportation Node will be developed as the first set-up system. Another Transportation Node will be assembled at Earth-Moon Lagrange Point 1 and a third on the surface of the moon. These Transportation Nodes offer a stopping port, as well as a few housekeeping services to the space transportation crafts between mission on top of generating liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen propellant from water. The water may be brought from the Earth or Moon. The housekeeping services comprise of power, communication, orbital debris protection, and other services.