Tanker Argus: Re-supply for a LEO Cryogenic Propellant Depot

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St. Germain, Brad David
Kokan, Timothy Salim
Marcus, Leland R.
Miller, Jeff
Rohrschneider, Reuben R.
Staton, Eric
Olds, John R.
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The Argus reusable launch vehicle (RLV) concept is a single-stage-to-orbit (SSTO) conical, wingedbodied vehicle powered by two liquid hydrogen (LH2)/liquid oxygen (LOX) supercharged ejector ramjets (SERJ). The 3rd generation Argus launch vehicle utilizes advanced vehicle technologies along with a magnetic levitation (Maglev) launch assist track. A tanker version of the Argus RLV is envisioned to provide an economical means of providing liquid fuel and oxidizer to an orbiting low Earth orbit (LEO) propellant depot. This depot could then provide propellant to various spacecraft, including reusable orbital transfer vehicles used to ferry space solar power (SSP) satellites to geo-stationary orbit. Two different tanker Argus configurations were analyzed. The first simply places additional propellant tanks inside the payload bay of an existing Argus reusable launch vehicle. The second concept is a modified pure tanker version of the Argus RLV in which the payload bay is removed and the vehicle propellant tanks are extended to hold additional propellant. An economic analysis was performed for this study that involved the calculation of the design/development and recurring costs of each vehicle. The goal of this analysis was to determine at what flight rate it would be economically beneficial to spend additional development funds to change an existing, sunk cost, payload bay tanker vehicle into a pure tanker design. The results show that for yearly flight rates greater than ~50 flts/yr it is cheaper, on a $/lb basis , to develop and operate a dedicated tanker.
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