Commercial Space Transportation Study
The U.S. commercial launch industry needs revitalization to recapture the market from subsidized foreign competition. The principal technology base for our launch industry is 30 years old. This study will change this situation by systematically identifying future launch opportunities and defining a next-generation launch system to optimally meet the users' requirements. The results of this study will benefit commercial, civil, and DOD users, as well as make the United States more competitive across the aerospace industry.
The basis for this study was the perception held worldwide by government and industry that (1) significant untapped markets exist or could be created if the costs for access to space could be reduced by an order of magnitude or more, (2) a new launch system can provide this order of magnitude reduction in launch costs, and (3) a reduction of that magnitude will cause the equivalent of a space industrial revolution with a tremendous increase in users and traffic. This conjecture is often stated but has never been proved. Phase I of the study identifies those new users and categorizes their prospective payloads. Once the business opportunity has been identified, the best prospective launch system can be determined and the required technologies put in place. This is the linkage between phase I and the proposed phases II and III.
1.2 Goals and Objectives
It is commonly recognized that the U.S. space launch industry needs revitalization to recapture commercial markets from foreign competition and to stimulate the development of new commercial ventures in space. To this end, representatives of six aerospace companies (Boeing, General Dynamics, Lockheed, Martin Marietta, McDonnell Douglas, and Rockwell) and NASA met in March 1993 at NASA's Langley Research Center (LaRC) to discuss means by which a new, commercial space transportation system might be developed.
A perception is held by government and industry that a new, state-of-the-art launch system can provide an order of magnitude reduction in launch costs and that a reduction of that magnitude will cause the equivalent of a space industrial revolution with a substantial increase in users and traffic. The group meeting at NASA LaRC concluded that to become economically viable, a new launch system must generate new commercial markets. This group, now known as the Commercial Space Transportation Study (CSTS) Alliance, established the need for a market exploration study to identify potential customers, determine price elasticity of demand, and assess the commercial business opportunities for such a future launch system. This plan was briefed to NASA Administrator Dan Goldin on April 30, 1994, and in May the partnership between NASA and the companies began.
The CSTS objectives, as illustrated in figure 1.2-1, were to assess market elasticity with the long-term goal of expanding the market for space products and services. Significant results of the phase 1 CSTS effort, performed between June 1993 and February 1994, are summarized in this document.
Figure 1.2-1. CSTS Objectives Were to Assess Market Elasticity