Section 3 is the Market Assessment/Market Analysis section, it contains the following sections:
3.1 Communications Market 3.2 Space Manufacturing 3.3 Remote Sensing 3.4 Government Missions 3.5 Transportation Missions
3.6 Entertainment 3.7 New Missions 3.8 Space Utilities 3.9 Extraterrestrial Resources 3.10 Advertising

Table of Contents for Section 3.5

3.5 Transportation
3.5.1 Introduction
3.5.2 Space Rescue
3.5.3 Fast Package Delivery
3.5.4 Space Servicing and Transfer
3.5.5 Hazardous Waste Disposal
3.5.6 Space Tourism
3.5.7 Ultra High Speed Civil Transport
References
The Full Section Index is at the end of this Section

Commercial Space Transportation Study


3.5 Transportation

3.5.1 Introduction

The items grouped under "transportation" reflect a loose collection of market segments. The "value added" in these markets is primarily in the transportation of people and goods. The transportation elements do not exploit the features/advantages of space per se as is the case in other market areas explored in the CSTS. Many of these transportation scenarios involve high flight rate and price-sensitive operations; beyond that fact, the reader is cautioned not to place too much emphasis on the grouping of market segments under the transportation heading.

The following sections describe the following transportation market segments: Space Rescue, Fast Package Delivery, Space Servicing/Transfer, Hazardous Waste Disposal, Space Tourism Transportation, and Ultra High Speed Civil Transport.

3.5.1.1 Results Summary

The transportation market segments are truly driven by the availability of low cost, reliable systems. In the case of the transportation market segments, there is essentially no significant profit to be made until the transportation costs are reduced to a few hundred dollars per pound. Huge transportation revenues are envisioned, as the volume of traffic should increase more than proportionally to the price as compared to the higher cost markets.

Assuming the large traffic predictions for the transportation markets are realized, the required fleet size will be substantially larger than for other CSTS market groups. If the fast package delivery concept is realized, this market will set the fleet size for all the CSTS missions; likewise, the hazardous waste disposal market represents the largest market as measured by its mass-to-orbit requirements. Given the low net revenue per flight, it is imperative that the unit cost of the vehicles be as low as possible, assuming commercial amortization rates. This requirement should feed back into the design process instead of attempting to minimize the production costs after development.

Most of the CSTS markets will have as a requirement vastly improved service. In the transportation area, high flight rates dictate flight schedules (availability) must be maintained to a high degree of confidence. This can be achieved through very high reliability systems, fault tolerance, and spares/extra flight vehicles.

It appears that, in many ways, the requirements for transportation markets may be the most difficult to satisfy. One strategy is to exclude these markets from inclusion in a total aggregate until a second-generation commercial space transportation system is likely. Another view is that by addressing the stringent requirements for the transportation segments, other commercial markets will be able to use the same vehicles or technology without bearing the development costs and risks.

3.5.1.2 Associated Market Segments

The market segments grouped within this category have little association with other non "Transportation" markets due primarily to our definition of what is included in this category. Space tourism transportation is however, related to the entertainment and space business park concepts. Considerable effort was spent ensuring consistency in the treatment of these market segments.

Transportation markets provide leveraged growth for many other market areas. Beyond the jobs associated with developing, manufacturing, and operating the system, other terrestrial analogs would suggest there are several times as many jobs associated with the transportation markets.

3.5.2 Space Rescue

3.5.2.1 Introduction/Statement of Problem

Vision statement: Bad news from the unmanned industrial materials processing platform Matsat IV- a failed solar array connection. In 3 days the batteries will be exhausted and the furnaces will shut down. The samples and the furnace will be ruined! A space rescue vehicle is called up and launched. Using the onboard intelligent algorithms, stereo vision, versatile toolkit, and multiple dexterous "arms", a repair is effected with minimal telepresence support from the ground. The experiments and the facility continue on their mission . . .

Timely rescue of humans and/or valuable space assets has heretofore not been possible. In the unforgiving environment of space, minor system failures or natural disasters (such as micrometeor strikes), can result in loss of life or the degradation of expensive assets.

In order to mitigate these potentially disastrous results, conceptually an industry would be created to rapidly and flexibly respond to crisis situations. Figure 3.5.2.1-1 lists some of the terrestrial services that are analogous.


Fire Department Rescue Teams
Emergency Medical Technicians
Hazardous Material Spill Teams
Forest Fire Smoke Jumpers
Oil Well Fire Specialists
Coast Guard Search and Rescue (SAR)
U.S. Navy Submarine Rescue Team
Commercial Aircraft Airplane-on-Ground Teams

Figure 3.5.2.1-1. Terrestrial Analogs for Space Rescue Service

3.5.2.2 Study Approach

Since there is no such capability (or company) existing today, it is not possible to directly interview any users. Assuming that it will be a part of a large, thriving commercial space scenario, we agreed to postpone further market analysis of this market segment, representing it as a small multiplier applied to the sum total mission model. This approach is insufficient to quantify the economics of the space rescuer's business or transportation system and is left for future study to refine.

3.5.2.3 Market Description

3.5.2.3.1 Description Market Evaluation

Rescue of personnel and assets has economic and societal value if the cost of the rescue is less than or equal to the cost of inaction. For purposes of this report, the term "rescue" is taken to imply that time is an important, distinguishing feature of this market segment.

Many terrestrial rescue services are not for profit, operating from municipal, tax-based revenues. The cost of rescue services is based on a cultural perception of the value of such services, rather than an economic analysis. Similarly, the assured crew return vehicle (ACRV), a planned rescue capability for NASA's space station, is not economically justified by any reasonable value assessed to the life of astronauts.

Other rescue services are based on economics. Terrestrially, even paying a high premium for a specialty company to extinguish and cap a burning oil well is justified by the revenue-earning oil that is preserved. In space, there have been several high-profile satellite repair missions. As there was not the element of time urgency associated with the term rescue, these examples will be discussed in Section 3.5.4, Space Servicing/Transfer.

It is possible in the future that a situation such as was described in the previous vision statement would result in the requirement for rapid response. The failure to act in a timely manner could result in tremendous costs for some space ventures when one considers loss of revenue, customers migrating to functioning alternatives, and replacement costs.

The market then, is for a service that could rapidly respond to any number of possible emergencies in space and perform a successful rescue (meaning extract, stabilize, rapidly repair, or retrieve) at an acceptable cost.

In the past, space rescue was all but technologically impossible. Pre-positioned rescue assets such as the ACRV have been studied for manned missions. Ground-based rescue concepts are attractive when one considers the advantages of checking the hardware immediately before use and making any modifications to accommodate unique rescue situations. Rapid response of launch vehicles was possible (witness the ICBMs in their silos) but not with a nonstandard payload and certainly not to any random orbital destination.

3.5.2.3.2 Market Evaluation

To credibly evaluate the market for space rescue services, one needs to examine the aggregate traffic model for what will be in space at any given time. Furthermore, one needs to know what the orbital parameters are for all potential "customers" and some basics about how a rescue could be performed physically on a given spacecraft.

When all this basic information is known, one would have to probabilistically assess likely failure rates and modes. This does not require a failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA) for all possible spacecraft. It would be important to acknowledge that some spacecraft are more likely to need rescue and some are more likely to be able to be rescued.

The value of rescue must also be considered. Insurance actuarials could be used to understand the monetary compensation that could be expected: if the price of the space rescue mission is lower than the amount paid out by insurance, law suits, and so forth, someone will pay for the service.

As much of the information required to do this market evaluation awaits the completion of this phase of the CSTS, no results can be presented yet.

3.5.2.3.3 Market Assessment

No business assessment for a space rescue enterprise was conducted within the time and resources of this study.

3.5.2.3.4 Market Infrastructure

A space rescue venture, like many terrestrial analogs, involves specialized equipment and operations. The degree of overlap with other commercial space infrastructure will be minimal. The costs of this unique infrastructure represents a negative factor on realizing space rescue.

3.5.2.4 Prospective Users

As space rescue is a new market with no existing customers and was not a focus area, we did not have time to discuss this concept with others outside of the alliance. Within the alliance, discussions were held with personnel who have worked on the ACRV program. Future studies may explore discussions with commercial, premiumpriced terrestrial rescue services, government rescue agencies, and insurance community representatives.

3.5.2.5 CSTS Needs and Attributes

3.5.2.5.1 Transportation System Characteristics

In general, without specifically knowing the spacecraft to be rescued, one can only discuss transportation system characteristics in general terms. If pre-positioned, space-based rescue assets are required, there is some latitude as to the scheduling of launches. For a ground-based rescue concept, the transportation system is "called up" quickly; that is, all elements from the decision to rescue to launch of a rescue package will be effected within hours.

The system will have adaptive guidance and large reserves of propellant to permit flexible, off-optimum rendezvous. Control and physical attachment with the rescued object will need to be largely autonomous with telepresence as a backup. Finally the rescue vehicle must be able to reenter and land with a large, minimally restrained payload (rescued items) with a wide range of possible centers of gravity.

3.5.2.5.2 Transportation System Capabilities

When a full accounting is made of the possible spacecraft to be rescued, the required capability of the transportation system will become apparent. The most difficult transportation capability to fulfill will be to remain dormant for an indefinite period and then reliably launch to a variable destination. Alternatively, the system could require a planned payload to be demated and a rescue payload to be mated and launched within a short time period.

3.5.2.5.3 Ground Handling

Minimal ground handling is required to ensure that a rescue mission could be called up and flown as quickly as possible.

3.5.2.5.4 User/Space Transportation Interfaces

In order for a successful rescue to occur, the rescuer must know as much as possible about the object to be rescued as early as possible. Online databases could provide instantaneous access to critical information. If the space hardware is developed to accepted standards, the toolkit of the rescuer would be more likely to be useful in the rescue.

If available in an unclassified format, the U.S. Navy submarine rescue experience could provide an excellent data source for interfacing in hostile environments.

In general, a successful space rescue concept would have to be very versatile in its ability to interface with any number of spacecraft.

3.5.2.5.5 Improvements Over Current

Most of the transportation characteristics described in the previous sections require improvements over current systems. Rapid transition from dormancy to operational status will be a challenge unlikely to be required of other CSTS missions.

3.5.2.6 Business Opportunities

Analysis of business opportunity was limited at this point. After summing the other CSTS missions, a 1% "tax" was applied to the manifest as a gross estimate of the likely level of rescue activity. For example, if there were 259 active orbiting spacecraft in the year 2013, there would be 2 rescue missions that year.

3.5.2.7 Conclusions and Recommendations

Space rescue constitutes a probable element of a healthy commercial space scenario. In the absence of specific spacecraft data, it is difficult to credibly assess even a preliminary business opportunity. Similarly, there are insufficient data at this time to determine how space rescue should be effected (ground and/or pre-positioned space assets options). A small multiplier, or tax, on the overall CSTS model was considered prudent.

3.5.3 Fast Package Delivery

3.5.3.1 Introduction/Statement of Problem

Vision statement: . . . Tuesday, 9:32 am, on the outskirts of Singapore . . . . The sequence control computer has just burned up, bringing the Lumpur Enterprises, Limited, assembly line to a grinding halt. The replacement board is made at TechnoWorld Industries in Palo Alto, California, where it is 5:32 p.m. locally. If a night flight heading west could be found, the board would still not get to Singapore until, at best, Thursday morning - 2 days of expensive downtime at about $135,000 a day! Instead, the plant manager remembers reading about the new Global Express service called UltraDelivery™.

After Global Express and TechnoWorld are called, a replacement board is whisked to evening express flight out of L.A. (San Francisco is still constructing its own express port). The cost in shipping charges paid to Global Express is $9,842. At 10:52 p.m., PST, the delivery rocket to the space port in Singapore, landing 48 minutes later at 3:40 p.m. local time. By 5:15, the board is delivered to the factory, enabling resumption of operations by Wednesday morning . . . .

The concept of fast package delivery via a form of commercial space transportation is a logical extrapolation in the history of commerce. Rapid transport of physical goods is desirable for several reasons. Getting the product to market first can be the difference between success and failure.

Competitive markets are driven to offer enhanced service (which includes responsive delivery and/or repairs) when the difference between the price or product quality of competing products is indistinguishable. For some industries, the higher costs associated with a more rapid transport of products is still preferable to the even higher cost of warehousing extensive inventories. Some products are too perishable to be viable unless the time in transit is very low.

The fast package delivery mission does not go to a stable orbit, and one may validly ask why this market area is included in a study of commercial space transportation. As will be discussed in later subsections, the system solution will embody almost all of the attributes that an orbital system would have. The total energy required can be up to ~85% of an orbital mission, apogees can approach 800 nmi, and reentry profiles are as severe as a return from orbit.

Operationally, the requirements for a fast package delivery vehicle include rapid turnaround, a high degree of reusability, low unit costs, and high reliability-all the same as (or better than) orbital missions. Furthermore, the market is near-term, which means some operations could conceivably begin today, at nearly today's costs, with the availability of a system.

Finally, as the vehicles for fast package delivery tend to be smaller and technically less demanding than for other CST markets, fast package delivery offers the potential to serve as a bridging mission: investors, operators, and governments will learn and gain confidence in routine space transportation. Lower development risks and cost, lower valued payloads (liability), and evolutionary technology implementation will enable the hardware manufacturer some latitude to learn how to make a commercial space vehicle.}

3.5.3.2 Study Approach

Although the fast package delivery concept represents a "new" market, it was instructive to work with air freight companies, particularly those offering premium services, such as overnight delivery. Furthermore, it is likely that some of these existing carriers would offer fast package delivery as one of several specialized services. This business vision would exploit the experience and shared infrastructure efficiencies of these companies vis-a-vis some new company trying to start up offering only premium, low-volume (as compared to air freight) transportation.

Therefore, the study approach for this market began with an examination of current and predicted facets of air freight, and in particular, the fast package services that use aircraft transportation. The thesis is that by understanding the lessons learned and business models of this service/transportation industry, a reasonable and traceable extrapolation to a new fast package delivery market could be made.

3.5.3.3 Market Description

3.5.3.3.1 Description Market Evaluation

Rapid transport of products over long distances, currently in the form of air freight and express mail, continues to expand. Despite the current global economic slump, this transportation sector is healthy. Various sources predict that the global air freight and express market will grow at something like 7% per annum through at least 2010.

In the express delivery services market, even more optimistic predictions are claimed. The United States market, where the concept first was implemented, is the largest, worth approximately $16 billion and will continue to grow at some modest rate. In Europe and eastern Asia, companies are still learning to exploit the advantages of overnight and/or same day delivery services in their businesses. One could expect significant growth in these markets. True transoceanic fast package delivery appears mainly in limited markets and is mostly based upon charter-type operations.

As the global economy becomes more and more interdependent, regular fast package delivery services will become a necessity, not a luxury (in the same way U.S. businesses have come to depend on Federal Express, DHL, Emery Worldwide, etc.).

There are some foreseeable factors that may limit the demand for fast package delivery. A significant percentage of current fast package users transport original documentation or currency to execute business transactions. With time, electronic signatures and money transfers are increasingly viewed as legal and acceptable, reducing the demand for physical transport of packages. Another factor relates to the capabilities of air transport: for small items, the trend in airplane design has created a glut of "free" cargo capacity in the belly holds that will attract some products that find that their time criticality is not worth the higher price of fast package delivery services.

Figure 3.5.3.3-1 depicts the forces and constraints at work in the development of a fast package delivery service.



Figure 3.5.3.3-1. Issues Related to the Development of Fast Package Delivery

3.5.3.3.2 Market Evaluation

The question that is invariably asked about the fast package delivery concept is: What are the things that would use such a service? (Anecdotally, and notably, interviewed personnel within the express package industry did not seem as skeptical or concerned as those in aerospace manufacturing with the makeup of the payload and the likelihood of a market materializing. . . .)

There are two product classes that would use a fast package delivery system: (1) commodities/services for which customers are willing to pay a premium for speed of delivery and (2) commodities/services in created markets that were previously impossible due to the perishable nature of the product. The first category is typified by the difference between fees charged for overnight letters vis-a-vis conventional postal rates. An analogous example in air freight for the second class of product would be the inception of transoceanic flights of fresh cut flowers.

Data gleaned from current air freight practices may prove instructive on predicting why customers would use fast delivery services. Figure 3.5.3.3-2 lists the top five United States imports and exports commodity groups via air transport in 1992. The items are not intuitively obvious! Note, too, that the intrinsic value of the items being shipped represent a wide range- from 1 to 10,000 $/lb. Each of these industry groups has made a trade between the higher cost of air shipment and the costs of warehousing, "buying more time" for production, customer responsiveness, and service, and beating the competition to market.

Similarly, our inability to precisely define the users of fast package delivery does not imply users will not exist.


Imports
Exports
CommoditylbmCommoditylbm
I/O units for computers330,000,000Aircraft Parts38,000,000
Sound recording equipment300,000,000I/O units for computers 28,000,000
Footwear206,000,000Photo film28,000,000
Photocopying apparatus112,000,000Specialized industrial machinery 24,000,000
Shirts, men's and boy's110,000,000Tractor parts 22,000,000

Figure 3.5.3.3-2. Top Air Freight Commodities for 1992

In the category of commodities that would find tangible benefit of rapid delivery, one could speculate that original documentation, currency, precious metals, and jewels may utilize such a service. These items have to have a very high value per unit weight; assuming shipping prices reflect the size and/or mass of the package, the fee would be tolerably low for such items.

Another potentially lucrative area of time-value delivery would be in the form of specialty machines or electronic parts and assemblies. As in the fictitious example given in the introduction to this market segment, the value of such items should be calculated to include more than the basic price of the item. The cost of downtime and inconvenience to many enterprises is potentially huge. A premium fast package delivery service would be part of just-in-time manufacturing principles, critical repair service, and supply-line disruption recovery. It is likely that a "package" of this type will represent the payload that will size the transportation system. Note that the cost of the delivery service must meet or beat the sum costs of transporting, storing, and depreciating comparable commodities.

The commodities and markets that would be created by a fast package delivery service may include items such as human organs for transplantation, fresh food delicacies, or biologic specimens for research.

Providing human organs for transplantation is a good example of a service enabled by a fast package delivery. As seen in Figure 3.5.3.3-3, the demand for transplant organs is growing at a fast pace, as medical technology improves techniques to minimize rejection. Opinions in interviews with the medical community were diverse as to the appropriateness of an expanded transplant network. Some believe that artificial or cloned organs will obviate the need for the current donor/recipient matching systems. Currently, potential recipients typically relocate to an urban area that has a facility specializing in a certain type of operation and wait agonizing months until a donor is matched (assuming one is found at all, before death occurs).

When a donor is found, the salvageable organs are carefully removed and packaged and whisked to the recipients' facility (typically by a chartered Learjet). Transplant availability is limited by the lifetime of the organ outside of the body (as little as 4 hours in the case of a heart).

Faster transit time would significantly expand the range of potential donors. Some ethicists have expressed concern over the possibility of "harvesting" third world organs; there will be many aspects of this fast package delivery market that will have to be resolved before implementation. The fact is that if properly done, an expanded pool of donors would save many lives.


Organ198919901991 (awaiting transplant)
Heart1,7002,0852,045
Heart-lung6850586
Kidney8,7069,56018,464
Liver2,1642,6561,466
Lung119265450
Pancreas419549170
Total13,17615,16523,181

Figure 3.5.3.3-3. Organ Transplant Demand

One can explore the likelihood of finding products that would be justified in accepting the high cost of a commercial space transportation system by several techniques.

Market user surveys have been useful in identifying the issues and thresholds of a number of commodities. Quantitative data, however, are virtually impossible to gather: the initial operating capability of such a system in well beyond the long-range planning horizon of most prospective users. Additionally, it would appear that traffic estimates are highly elastic to transportation cost-at a sufficiently low cost, the mature relationship between air freight and other transportation modes would disruptively shift, making credible prediction difficult.

Another approach is to back into an estimate of economic validity. The cargo industry generally considers that products can bear about 3% to 6% of their value, in the aggregate, for transportation. Although there are examples of individual commodities varying from this range, this rule of thumb has a fairly good correlation to any number of transportation systems (including air freight). If one assumes that an operational fast package delivery system will meet with customer acceptance by falling in a similar range, one could assess the parametric value of typical products versus the anticipated range of CST system transportation costs. Figure 3.5.3.3-4 illustrates the range of likely product values as transportation cost is varied.

At the right of the graph are some notional products and what their "value" is (remember, as in the introduction example, value includes a time component). From this exercise, it would appear that there are products for which fast package delivery is economically sound.



Figure 3.5.3.3-4. Relationship Between Package Value and Transportation Cost

Other aspects of a long distance (primarily international) transport of goods would be those of customs, taxes, labor disruptions, and landing fees. These are very real facets of international trade and must be accounted for in a market assessment. For example, it is easy to visualize how a local customs inspector could hold up a shipment (having gone to lunch, misplacing a form, or even perhaps, exercising a work slowdown as a labor contract is in dispute) and rapidly erode any time advantage fast package delivery may have over a competing mode of transport. Proper planning and flexible response are keys to overcoming these obstacles.

International air transport is legally possible because issues such as liability have been resolved in treaties. The fast package delivery concept involves more launch and landing sites and more overflight of population centers than any other commercial space mission. Space transportation does not, as of yet, enjoy the same degree of understanding or precedent as atmospheric flight activities. The treaty "Convention on Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects" (in force October 9, 1973) would seem to need some amendment. Basically liability is assessed to the country where the launch physically occurred. As written, this could be a strong disincentive to some nations to engage in fast package commerce.

Other issues would include interface with regional, national, and local air traffic control networks to ensure safety of atmospheric flight operations. Regulations concerning noise abatement, curfews, and environmental impact are real concerns for a system that must fly often and in proximity to population centers. Range safety, as currently defined, will be too cumbersome to implement at so many launch sites, and will probably be eliminated in favor of strict certification requirements.

3.5.3.3.3 Market Assessment

The number and city pairs serviced and the frequency/availability of flights requires careful consideration. Assuming the initial operators to be a commercial venture (governments may encourage or promote activity, but route decisions are not regulated), the selection of initial operations will determine how quickly the fast package delivery industry will mature. The following are several paths a fast package delivery business could take:

  • a. Limited scheduled service between major city pairs, maximizing traffic while minimizing the number of vehicles in the fleet.
  • b. Charter operations between major city pairs, maximizing revenue while minimizing the number of vehicles and the cycles on the hardware.
  • c. Charter operations between major embarkation points and many destinations, with deadhead return.
  • d. Scheduled service between many city pairs, maximizing market penetration.
  • e. Hybrid approaches of above options.
  • Discussion of the pros and cons of each option, and the implications for a transportation system follow. Limiting service to major destinations would enable startup of operations with the least number of vehicles and would simplify maintenance logistics. Figure 3.5.3.3-5 depicts the current top air freight traffic city pairs in terms of mass. One could presume that fast package delivery would best be suited to these markets, where the collection/distribution systems are in place and demand is high. Selecting the top "n" markets would then determine the vehicle/fleet requirements.

    It should be noted that these city pairs do not necessarily correspond to the largest population or industrial base. In some cases, a particular industry has found that air freight is important to its operations and uses the service heavily. For example, Columbus, Ohio, has a private airfield that supports the arrival of 747s loaded with imported clothing for The Limited.



    Figure 3.5.3.3-5. Top Air Freight City Pairs

    Charter operations would seem better suited to the nature of many fast package commodities; the arguments for reducing flight times are equally valid in the need to reduce the stem time prior to a scheduled flight. Vehicle life will be increased due to the infrequent use of the hardware elements. On the down side, predicting utilization in a new system is difficult, and the uncertainty in the estimates may scare off investors. The higher the cost of the hardware, the less desirable it becomes to establish an extensive network of destinations.

    Designing a system to land in many locations, while staging in only a few could dramatically enhance utility of the system. Returning the vehicle to a launching site (assuming reusability) is potentially a major cost, and reduces the availability of the system.

    Scheduled service in many city pairs will create a large and stable demand for fast package delivery. If the experience of the express mail market has any relevance to commercial space fast package delivery, the key lesson is this: there is a number, a critical mass, of networked nodes (cities) that cause the number of users to explode. The theory is the subject of doctoral dissertations, but the practical experience is worth examining. Federal Express began with a limited route structure flying small business jets, and lost money. When larger capacity airplanes and a nationwide network was established, an era of tremendous profitability was sustained. On the down side, there is a large upfront investment required to establish this capability (note that express mail service companies had the fortuitous timing to expand when a glut of used, convertible aircraft were available; no such used launch vehicle market exists).

    The answer may lie, as it does with express mail/air freight, in a hybrid mix of operations. Currently charter operations account for about 10% of the revenues of the express delivery industry. If service really is of paramount importance to the users, the expense of the extra vehicles may be justified.

    Estimating the size of the fast package delivery market, and the operating cost requirements ($/lb) was attempted via several methods. For a new market, none of these methods is rigorous to provide a precise estimate, but it was hoped some patterns would emerge.

    In the first method, an extrapolation of Federal Express international operations was made. Federal Express was chosen because it is an industry leader and some financial data were available. Approximately one-quarter of its revenue is attributable to international operations. Applying this ratio to the ~$16 billion express market would indicate the current international express market is worth ~$4 billion annually. One could parametrically vary the percentage of that market that may be captured by a fast package delivery service as well as the rate of growth in international package services. Figure 3.5.3.3-6 portrays the range of annual mass estimates that result.

    It is instructive to look at some 1991 data for mail, priority mail, and express mail (Fig. 3.5.3.3-7). One could extrapolate to a fast package delivery market from these data (recognizing that mail data are not all-inclusive and other services such as charter operations are unrepresented). For example, if five million items were transported at $100 each, the market would be $500 million annually.



    Figure 3.5.3.3-6. Estimate of Annual Fast Package Delivery Mass

    ParameterFirst ClassPriority MailExpress Mail
    Per piece attributable cost$0.30$3.33$11.52
    Per piece attributable cost$0.18$1.91$8.72
    Per piece revenue less attributable cost$0.12$1.42$2.81
    Per pound revenue$7.84$1.74$6.23
    Per pound attributable cost$4.64$1.00$4.72
    Per pound revenue less attributable cost$3.21$0.74$1.52
    Pieces~90,000M~530M~58M
    Average weight/piece0.0375 lb1.919 lb1.85 lb
    Average density14.4 lb/ft311.3 lb/ft37.0 lb/ft3
    Total weight3,398Mlb1,017Mlb107Mlb
    Total volume236Mft390Mft315Mft3

    Figure 3.5.3.3-7. Cost/Revenue Comparison for Mail (1991)

    Given the discussions held with express delivery industry representatives, charging users hundreds of dollars per pound is quite consistent with a specialty service philosophy. Even thousands of dollars per pound would still be acceptable to some users. Another order of magnitude was viewed as "iffy."
    Figure 3.5.3.3-8 depicts a rough order of magnitude model of what the price elasticity/demand may look like. Note that this corresponds to 1991 data and should be escalated at 7%, compounded annually depending on the anticipated date of introduction of service.

    Figure 3.5.3.3-8. Fast Package Delivery Market Size

    3.5.3.3.4 Market Infrastructure

    It is expected that a fast package delivery system will begin as an adjunct to the existing express mail/air freight infrastructure. Package collection, sorting, loading/unloading, and distribution will probably not require extensive new infrastructure elements.

    3.5.3.4 Prospective Users

    Direct contact was established with several prospective users of a fast package delivery service. The responses received were all viewed as positive to enthusiastic. Representatives of Emery Worldwide, Federal Express, and the Boeing Commercial Airplane Group/Cargo Research organizations were interviewed and provided much of the information in this report. The concept of fast package delivery has in fact been discussed before: the CEO of Federal Express, Fred Smith, had even previously spoken on using the Orient Express for such a purpose (ref. 1).

    3.5.3.5 CSTS Needs and Attributes

    3.5.3.5.1 Transportation System Characteristics

    The fast package delivery system is a hybrid between cargo aircraft and rocket transportation in that there are multiple takeoff and landing sites, but large amounts of energy are required to reach the destination. Typical payload sizes would not be anticipated to be very large. At this point, an educated guess would indicate a capacity of 3,000 lbm is sufficient. The performance capability, measured in terms of Delta-V, is determined by the maximum range route one would anticipate flying. In the absence of a complete analysis of likely city pairs for service, it can be shown that the longest range of interest is about 10,000 nmi, with most major routes somewhat below this range.
    Figure 3.5.3.5-1 depicts a typical boost/glide trajectory between New York and Sydney-about the maximum range one would anticipate.

    There are two classes of transportation systems that can achieve the fast package mission. The first, as represented in the previous example, is a boost/glide system. The system performs an initial accelerating burn that lofts the vehicle/payload in an elliptical, suborbital trajectory. The propulsion system (rockets) operates for only a small fraction of the flight time. As the vehicle reenters the atmosphere, it is aligned in such a way to cause it to skip along the highest fringes of the atmosphere. This technique maximizes the range for a minimum amount of propulsive energy and limits the aerodynamic and thermodynamic loads on the reentering vehicle.



    Figure 3.5.3.5-1. Example Trajectory for Boost/Glide-Type Fast Package Delivery Mission

    The second type of concept flies within the atmosphere using a continuously thrusting, air-breathing propulsion system, like an airplane. The National Aerospace Plane program was similar in concept. While the vehicle would be smaller (and theoretically less expensive) to move a given payload, the technology risk is substantial and has yet to be proven.

    Other transportation system requirements would probably include a minimization of vibration and environmental extremes given the diversity and unknown fragility of the packages.

    Reliability is a key requirement for a fast package service operator. What the operator defines as reliability is not the same as what the transportation hardware industry thinks of as reliability. The typical user of current express services only approaches such companies when all their other, slower, less expensive options have been explored. CST fast package delivery users could be expected to fit the same profile. Businesses do not usually plan to get into situations where premium express delivery is the difference between success and failure. When their services are employed, the express companies are expected to deliver as advertised. Failure to do so virtually guarantees there will be no repeat customers. What the fast package delivery operator defines as reliable will be the ability to deliver a given package at its intended destination and time with a very high degree of confidence.

    If, as is the experience of current express package services, fast package delivery customers implicitly demand this form of reliable delivery 99.999% of the time, there are some major implications to a commercial space transportation venture. The space transportation developers may immediately translate this into a required vehicle reliability of 0.99999, a major development challenge. Realizing that subsonic aircraft have high "reliabilities," but only "dispatch reliabilities" of 0.93-0.99, should provide a clue to an alternative solution. Air freight companies maintain high schedule confidence by using extra aircraft, extensive spares (~5-10% of fleet cost), and standardized payload interfaces (rapid changeout to alternative vehicle). If the cost of developing a commercial space transportation vehicle to ultrahigh reliabilities is prohibitive, one could instead cost extra airframes and/or spares.

    A small fleet of vehicles for fast package delivery will be less efficient in major assets, such as rocket engines, would likely have to be pre-positioned at every destination to minimize downtime. Either way, the service demanded by fast package operators represents a significant input to the costs of a future system.

    3.5.3.5.2 Transportation System Capabilities

    The payload size of the fast package delivery transportation system is small compared to that required for other market segments, and the propellant tanks would not be sized to achieve orbital velocities. As was seen in Figure 3.5.3.5-1, the longest fast package delivery routes (around 10,000 nmi) require the system to have a Delta-V capability of around 24,000 feet per second (fps). Orbital capability requires about 30,000 fps and would necessitate the tankage (and the vehicle) be that much proportionally larger.

    It is possible to use the fast package system to orbit small payloads, however. Conceptually, a fast package vehicle flight would be chartered on occasion to boost small satellites. {The cost of the flight should be much lower than for developing and operating a dedicated, small satellite launcher. In addition, the dependability, flexible scheduling, and operating infrastructure of such system should be attractive to customers.} Near apogee, the payload bay would open and a small payload/kickstage assembly would be ejected. The size of the payload will be limited by the Delta-V of the fast package vehicle and the performance of the kickstage. In Figure 3.5.3.5-2, the orbital altitude of a payload is plotted for the initial velocity capability of a fast package system for various kickstage Delta-Vs.



    Figure 3.5.3.5-2. Fast Package Delivery Vehicle Capability To Place Payloads in Orbit

    Two example points are shown in the figure. The kickstage is assumed to be a conventional, solid-propellant expendable vehicle. For this example, the fast package payload capability is 3,000 lbm. Point "A" corresponds to a case where the fast package vehicle has a capability of ~24,800 fps (the same as a New York to Sydney route), with a kickstage sized to provide an additional 2,000 fps. Such a system could put a 1,850-lbm satellite in a 200 nmi circular orbit. In the Point "B" example, a 22,000 fps fast package system, combined with a kickstage of 6,000 fps capability could place a 911-lbm payload in a 483-nmi circular orbit.

    The boost/glide trajectories offer another use for the fast package delivery transportation system. After the initial boost phase, the vehicle is lofted to very high altitudes in a O-G parabola before skipping back in the atmosphere. Again, it is conceptually feasible that occasional flights could be chartered for microgravity research, manufacturing, engineering equipment development, or astronomy. Many microgravity processes, such as crystal formation, could be performed during the 0-G period of the flight, with near-immediate access to the payload upon landing. The New York to Paris route, for example, offers some 15.5 minutes of microgravity; a New York to Sydney route provides over 40 minutes of microgravity. Comparable to NASA's KC-135 research aircraft, such a system could provide multiple flights to microgravity researchers or even light commercial manufacturing at sizes well in excess of traditional-sounding rockets.

    3.5.3.5.3 Ground Handling

    It is reasonable to assume that the vehicle takeoff and landing facilities are collocated. This spaceport will look more like an airport than Kennedy Space Center; in fact, depending on the design solution, an airport is an excellent choice for a facility, as it represents a large, secure area that is near commerce centers. Access to the spaceport via other transportation modes is essential, particularly air and road transport.

    There will be no time for payload checkout or inspection. Users must conform to some basic safety regulations, such as flammability. Packages will arrive or be picked up by the delivery operator, encased by the user to withstand the expected transportation environment. After sorting, packages will be placed in standard payload containers (such as sacks or airline type LD containers) with no interfaces external to the package. Conformity to standard containers is important as the package may have to be transferred one or more times to other forms of transit to get to its final destination. Reloading packages into other containers adds time and cost to a delivery.

    3.5.3.5.4 User/Space Transportation Interfaces

    The customer will interface with the operator of the fast package delivery service. That operator will be responsible for educating the customers as to the constraints (size, safety, pickup times) for shipment. The operator, having jointly agreed to the physical interfaces with the transportation vehicle developer, will know the limits of the hardware.

    3.5.3.5.5 Improvements Over Current

    Like many other CSTS missions, significant improvements in reliability and cost per flight represent the most obvious required improvements over current systems.

    In addition to the transit time associated with the primary vehicle, the transport of cargo typically includes a significant time for collection (also called stem time) and distribution of individual items. In fact, the airborne portion of intercontinental shipping is only a small fraction of the total door-to-door transit time. The real benefit of a fast package system may be to exploit the time zone differences that currently influence east-west transport. As illustrated in following figures, a comparison of total timelines for several forms of "rapid" package/freight services shows the advantage of a fast package delivery system.

    For a westbound example, Figure 3.5.3.5-3 compares Frankfurt to New York traffic (currently the world's busiest international air cargo city pair). From all over Europe, air cargo is gathered, typically in the afternoon, to be export-processed in the early evening. Dedicated freighters have an advantage over cargo destined to fly in the belly holds of passenger flights: the freighter can leave in the night, whereas there are few passenger flights that are scheduled to leave so late in the evening. This is more than just a consideration of the inconvenience to the traveling public. As passenger airplanes function at a high operating cost to revenue ratio compared to freight (more crew, amenities, etc.), the airframe is optimally utilized through positioning of the airframe to maximize load factor and time in the air. For westbound European departures this translates into morning departures. Note that flying a passenger airplane faster than mach 0.9 does not significantly impact delivery time. A fast package delivery system would more closely resemble a freighter.



    Figure 3.5.3.5-3. Westbound Transit Time Comparison

    Similarly,
    Figure 3.5.3.5-4 depicts a typical eastbound example, Tokyo to San Francisco, comparable to existing air freight markets. North-south markets would be represented by similar timelines, but with limited time zone advantages. One should also conclude from these timelines that the real routes for fast package delivery are in the very long distance markets where an appreciable (and therefore salable) improvement in door-to-door time can be realized. For example, coast-to-coast service within the continental United States may reduce total time by about 4 hours; conceptually, it is difficult to envision this reduction as a general enabler of new inter-U.S. markets.

    As mentioned previously, there are some trends in subsonic air transport design that do have bearing on the market elasticity discussion for a fast package delivery service. The market for transported goods between two destinations (which are primarily produced and consumed by people) tends to be proportional to the size of the populations of those two destinations. While this may seem trivial, if one thinks of the number of people (flights) who travel between those population centers, one realizes that the onboard cargo capacity that a plane has in its belly hold is extremely synergistic with the needs of cargo services. Note that the new, twin-aisle aircraft (which require wider bodies for a given number of seats) that will replace existing fleets have higher cargo capacity.

    Passenger ticket pricing does not relate to cargo; this freight revenue is essentially all profit for the operator. The message from this discussion is this: the increase in availability in air cargo volume will drive freight prices down. This will certainly have a positive effect on the size of the air cargo market, but a widening of the price differential between air freight and fast package delivery may cause some customers to opt for a slower, less expensive system.



    Figure 3.5.3.5-4. Eastbound Transit Time Comparison

    3.5.3.6 Business Opportunities

    3.5.3.6.1 Cost Sensitivities

    Initial attempts at modeling the economics of this market revealed some amazing sensitivities. First of all, a small, reusable vehicle is outside the bounds of current cost-estimating relationships. Fast package delivery will require more vehicles than any other market segment. As such, understanding the unit cost becomes important in determining the upfront expenditure required to begin service. Relatively small variations in estimated unit cost translate into success or failure of a venture seeking a 20% IRR.

    Second, the number of vehicles in the fleet varies significantly with assumptions regarding the number and location of routes serviced and the turnaround times on the ground. Even if one assumes only a small handful of destinations, these variables lead to a wide range of possible fleet sizes. Again, price per flight can only be determined when one knows the size of the nonrecurring debt that has to be amortized.

    Within the time and resource constraints of this study, it was determined that a credible model was impractical to create. Such a model would need to be detailed enough to account for "real world" constraints such as curfews, interface with air traffic control, relationship to local transport infrastructure, and spares placement strategy. It was decided, then, at the time of this writing, to defer any cost analysis and consequently to defer inclusion of fast package delivery in the aggregate CSTS economic model.

    3.5.3.6.2 Programmatics

    No programmatic analysis was performed for this market area.

    3.5.3.7 Conclusions and Recommendations

    The fast package delivery concept is a promising market segment. Although it is not an orbital transportation system, the technological and operational synergism with other CSTS market segments is significant.

    Potential users would be available as soon as a system became available; the concept is a natural extension of world economic expansion and could be easily incorporated into the global trade infrastructure.

    3.5.4 Space Servicing and Transfer

    3.5.4.1 Introduction/Statement of Problem

    Vision statement: Commercial communications satellite operator ViaSpaceComm has been operating its LEO constellation for 6 years now. Some of its satellites have suffered minor failures and many are low on maneuvering propellant. They could replace the constellation, but the market doesn't require any more technology, not for another 7 or 8 years. Space Repair Inc. is asked to propose a servicing mission to the constellation. When ViaSpaceComm finds it is cheaper to repair than replace, they give the go ahead . . . .

    The idea of on-orbit repair is not a new one. Several space shuttle missions have been dedicated to satellite repair, including the spectacularly successful Hubble Space Telescope repair. While these missions may not have been economically justified if performed in a truly commercial environment, nevertheless, there are a number of postulated commercial spacecraft that would pay to repair rather than replace the asset, especially as regards large platforms.

    3.5.4.2 Study Approach

    There exists no true commercial capability to perform space servicing and transfer (the space shuttle servicing missions represent a government-funded special case). No commercial venture could be interviewed for this market segment. As it was the consensus of the CSTS alliance that such missions would not be a major market, only limited exploration of the specific business opportunities were conducted.

    In the absence of specific spacecraft data, one cannot model with certainty the type or frequency of servicing and/or transfer missions. The function of space repair and transfer, however, can be predicted to be required in a thriving commercial space environment. Therefore, to include this mission without specifics, we agreed on a small multiplier on the total aggregate of spacecraft to quantify the number of missions for space servicing and transfer. (This is similar to the approach taken in Sec. 3.5.2, Space Rescue.)

    3.5.4.3 Market Description

    3.5.4.3.1 Description Market Evaluation

    Figure 3.5.4.3-1 describes the drivers for and against the introduction of a space servicing industry.

    Figure 3.5.4.3-1. Forces Acting For and Against the Development of a Space Servicing and Transfer Business Opportunity

    Note that lowering launch costs has both a positive and negative effect on creating a space servicing venture. While the cost of performing a servicing/transfer mission would be reduced, there is reason to believe lower transportation costs also results in less expensive spacecraft. This trend, described in more detail in
    Section 3.1, basically projects opting for heavier (less complex and hence less expensive) platforms as launch costs drop; at some point, the spacecraft operator would find it economically justifiable to replace rather repair or service an asset.

    On the positive side, there are valid reasons to consider space servicing and transfer that are insensitive to launch costs. Underwriters would rather pay for a lower cost repair mission than replace the entire spacecraft. Designing a spacecraft with the ability to be repaired on orbit would translate directly into lower insurance premiums, resulting ultimately in a lower price for customers. Similarly, the high replacement cost of a new spacecraft could be deferred with the availability of servicing/transfer, improving the operators' cash flow. Replacing orbital assets before the expected lifetime of the spacecraft can also result in a significant downtime that could be very detrimental to business. Lost revenues and customer migration to alternative services must be factored into the cost/benefit of a repair mission. Last, as experience is gained in autonomous and robotic servicing operations, such as those missions conducted on the space shuttle, the technology and interface standards associated with on-orbit servicing, repair, and transfer will have matured to a point at which a servicing venture is technically feasible.

    It should be realized that there are also significant forces at work against the demand for on-orbit services. Obsolescence is a key driver in much of the world's high technology infrastructure. Markets and needs change constantly; looking back a couple of decades ago, for example, U.S. live black-and-white television satellites were state of the art; today even small countries own far more sophisticated assets. Combined with improved reliability in many subsystems, the usefulness of future spacecraft will be limited to the time between new generations of consumer-driven technology. There may be no real reason to plan for servicing a spacecraft due to be phased out within a few months or years. Other factors include the diverse locations and types of spacecraft, which would require a very versatile (probably expensive) servicing system.

    A trend towards on-orbit spares, driven in part by the need to minimize downtime when a satellite fails, is economically attractive to the operator, especially if launches can be comanifested to reduce costs. Finally, there could be an issue relating to transfer of national or company-sensitive data to a servicing company that would prevent some users from availing themselves of these services.

    3.5.4.3.2 Market Evaluation

    To credibly evaluate the market for space servicing and transfer services, one needs to examine the aggregate traffic model for what will be in space at any given time. Furthermore, one needs to know what the orbital parameters are for all potential "customers" and some basics about what types of repairs and/or refueling could be performed physically on a given spacecraft.

    When all this basic information is known, one would have to probabilistically assess likely failure rates and modes. This does not require a failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA) for all possible spacecraft. It would be important to acknowledge that some spacecraft are more likely to need service and some are more likely to be able to be serviced. In addition, the very availability of space repair and transfer services is likely to influence the design and deployment strategy of new commercial spacecraft, creating a larger market for such services.

    The value of repair/transfer/reboost must also be considered. As in terrestrial ventures, companies are continually trading off replacement and repair. Insurance actuarials could be used to understand the monetary compensation that could be expected: if the price of the space servicing mission is lower than the amount paid out by insurance, lawsuits, and so forth, someone will pay for the service.

    Another probable aspect of the servicing business would be a sideline in salvage operations. For a fee, owners of a "dead" spacecraft would sell that asset to the servicing company. That company could then return and refurbish or cannibalize space-qualified hardware for resale. Insurance companies may also be interested in contributing to removal of excess space debris reducing collision hazards and lowering claims.

    As much information required to do this market evaluation awaits the completion of this phase of the CSTS, no results can be presented yet.

    3.5.4.3.3 Market Assessment

    No business assessment for a space repair and transfer enterprise was conducted within the time and resources of this study.

    3.5.4.4 Prospective Users

    Space servicing and transfer is not performed by any one company, and not at all as a private commercial venture. While some potential existing companies, such as Oceaneering and TRW, were thought to be likely candidates to expand into this business, it is more probable that a new venture would be established to provide a flexible response to a diverse customer base. Other than discussion with alliance members, no formal contacts were established during this phase of the CSTS.

    3.5.4.5 CSTS Needs and Attributes

    When a full accounting is made of the possible spacecraft to be serviced, the required capability and characteristics of the transportation system will become apparent.

    In order for successful servicing to occur, the space servicing company must know as much as possible about the object to be serviced as early as possible. Online databases could provide instantaneous access to critical information. If the space hardware is developed to accepted standards, the toolkit of the service provider would be more likely to be useful in the mission.

    3.5.4.6 Business Opportunities

    Analysis of a business opportunity was limited at this point. When a more complete portrayal of the total space based market is available, we can begin to model a venture (including the effect of transportation cost).

    3.5.4.7 Conclusions and Recommendations

    Space servicing and transfer is a likely mission as part of a thriving commercial space infrastructure. The size of the business opportunity is speculative until a more detailed portrait emerges of the specific spacecraft that could use this service. For purposes of modeling the launch traffic associated with this market, we have assigned a multiplier of 0.02 to the aggregate traffic. That is, as a gross assumption, 2% of the functioning spacecraft would employ servicing or transfer services per year.

    3.5.5 Hazardous Waste Disposal

    3.5.5.1 Introduction/Statement of Problem

    Vision statement: In or around 2010, nuclear power plants will be operating in large numbers across the planet without the threat of nuclear proliferation or contamination from leaking nuclear waste containers. This is accomplished by collecting the used fuel rods and shipping them all to a central location, where they are chemically separated under United Nations supervision and the portion containing radioactive wastes is immediately loaded into safe-reentry casks for shipment to a transfer facility in low earth orbit (LEO). In LEO these canisters are loaded onto a lunar lander, which is in turn the payload of a space tug.

    Every 9 to 10 days a reusable space tug leaves for the Moon and three days later a load of waste canisters is soft landed into a crater on the Moon's far side. Once on the surface, they are picked up by a remotely controlled tractor and placed in a position to radiate to free space, essentially forever. This system was put in place and operated continuously using the disposal surcharge assessed to nuclear power generation facilities. In addition, the steady traffic to LEO and the Moon has created a commercial transportation capability that has opened other profitable ventures . . . .

    The problems associated with hazardous waste are an ugly reminder of the downside of mankind's technological progress. Industrial processes and weapons production often result in wastes too toxic to simply put in a landfill. At a gross level, there are three categories of hazardous waste: chemical, biological, and nuclear. Both chemical and biological waste can generally be cracked through some form of incineration: chemical bonds break down with the addition of a sufficient amount of heat. There are still some compounds and heavy metals that will require extra processing steps. Radioactive waste is harder to process: humans can be harmed even without physical contact and accelerating the natural slow decay can only be accomplished by bombarding the materials with neutrons of just the right energy levels.

    For the purposes of the CSTS analysis, hazardous waste disposal in space is limited to a discussion of nuclear waste disposal. The decision to do this was based on the following factors:

  • a. Longevity of the hazard represents a lasting problem for humankind.
  • b. Known budgets for terrestrial disposal from which to compare to.
  • c. Concern for international proliferation of weapons-grade nuclear material.
  • Resolving the nuclear waste disposal problem is critical to the future of nuclear power, but political, legal, and technical delays have put off the opening date for a permanent, government-operated high-level waste depository until at least 2010. Yucca Mountain in the state of Nevada is proposed as a temporary site for nuclear waste storage and is expected to become a permanent repository after 50 years. A second repository will also be necessary (probably on the East Coast), and the DOE plans to spend $43 billion for the two permanent waste repositories. Besides the high cost, public opinion is against having nuclear waste permanently stored underground because safety is difficult to guarantee for tens of thousands of years. Locals especially fear degradation of safe storage from seismic activity or contamination by running water. This issue has become a lightning rod for environmental concerns, and permanent ground storage of nuclear waste might already be a lost cause in the United States.

    Bear in mind also that the United States owns only 40% of the world's estimated nuclear wastes. Other nations (primarily Russia, Ukraine, and France) possess huge amounts of waste. The world's citizens are increasingly aware that nuclear waste is a global problem and will demand safe disposal by all nations with nuclear capability.

    How extensive is the nuclear waste problem? Predictions state there will be 41,000 metric tons of high-level nuclear waste in the U.S. from nuclear power plants by the year 2000 and another 10,000 tons from government nuclear weapons programs. Spent reactor fuel will be accumulating at the rate of 1,000 tons per year in this country by the year 2000 and storage pools at the power plants are already full (ref. 2).

    On the other hand, electrical consumers in this country have paid a one-tenth of a cent fee on every nuclear-generated kilowatt hour since 1982 for eventual waste disposal, and the payments and interest currently total nearly $5 billion. What is needed is an environmentally acceptable permanent solution at an affordable price. The world, especially the Third World, requires abundant, environmentally acceptable, low-cost power to raise the standard of living and avoid widespread starvation.

    Modern nuclear power plants can provide this lowcost power, but dissemination of the knowledge and hardware necessary to build these plants has been thwarted by the threat of the proliferation of nuclear weapons. However, nuclear proliferation is a political issue with a possible technical solution. If used nuclear fuel rods can only be removed (and permanently disposed of) by an international body like the United Nations, then surreptitious processing to obtain plutonium would be nearly impossible.

    The threat of global warming through emissions from burning fossil fuels, the dropping standard of living in the third world, and the decreasing cost of enriched uranium dictate that nuclear power must be seriously considered for developing nations; and safe, effective disposal of used nuclear fuel rods could make this practical.

    3.5.5.2 Study Approach

    Nuclear waste disposal in space has been studied for many years (ref. 3). Rarely have these studies considered that such a venture could be conducted commercially; most of the study effort was devoted to the technical aspects of the solution. Rather than duplicate these studies (many of which represent more labor-hours of work than the entire CSTS effort), the results were compared and the solution judged most promising was selected as a baseline for economic analysis.

    Disposing of the waste outside the Earth's biosphere would be the ideal permanent disposal of nuclear generated wastes and byproducts. Various ideas for space disposal have been considered: Earth orbit, Earth-Moon libration points, 1.1 or 0.85 AU, Venus impact, Jupiter entry, solar impact, and solar system escape. Figure 3.5.5.2-1 lists a summary of pros and cons of the various space waste disposal concepts.


    Repository LocationTransport System Delta-V (km/s)Transit Time(Days)Stability/ Security of LocationFuture Recovery of IsotopesAstronomical Interference
    Earth orbit10.60.12<1,000 yearsYesYes
    Libration point(s)11.53Perturbations can cause Earth impactYesYes
    Solar orbit10.95Perturbations can cause Earth impactMaybeSome
    Lunar repository11.53InfinityYesYes near side, no far side
    Solar impact (direct)38.065InfinityNoNo
    Venus impact13.4146InfinityNoNo

    Figure 3.5.5.2-1. Comparison of Nuclear Waste Space Storage/Disposal Options

    The lunar surface repository was selected as the baseline option for CSTS analysis, based on this comparison and consideration of the following qualitative benefits:
  • a. The waste is stored in the gravity well of the Moon, so it cannot be deflected by passing asteroids or comets. (Aten asteroids where unknown at the time of the 1982 studies.)
  • b. The lunar transfer process is over in 3 days while the heliocentric transfer takes 165 days. If the control systems fail during transfer the waste directed to the Moon impacts the lunar surface with no possibility of Earth contamination. If a similar failure occurs during the longer heliocentric transfer, the waste is left in an orbit that could impact Earth at a future date.
  • c. The waste is stored in a controlled manner on the lunar surface and can be located and retrieved relatively quickly if a use is found for it in the future. Considerable effort was expended to create some exotic isotopes, which could be very valuable.
  • d. Nuclear waste packages are gamma ray emitters, and gamma ray spectroscopy, while unheard of in 1982, is now an important astronomy tool. Storage on the far side of the Moon would not affect astronomers.
  • e. The lunar surface is free of an atmosphere and running water, and the deposit site is localized and would present no threat to future lunar colonists.
  • f. A vehicle designed for disposal of nuclear waste on the Moon can have further applications such as lunar exploration, lunar mining, and lunar colonization.
  • g. It is conceivable that, at some future time, a low-efficiency power/thermal source could be made for local use on the Moon from the waste.
  • With a lunar repository as a baseline, several different scenarios for hazardous waste disposal were examined. All upper stages and lunar landers are based on a study done by Boeing in 1991 (ref. 3), which was considered representative (but by no means the only solution). From the estimates of the mass of spent nuclear fuel to be disposed of by 2000, the number of trips necessary for its disposal on the Moon was determined, assuming some or no ground-processing of the waste before launch is allowed. Once the number of trips is determined, a cost estimate, not including Earth to LEO launch, is made for each case. The cost of each is compared to the budget for the disposal of nuclear waste; the remainder determined the threshold transportation cost for feasibility.

    3.5.5.3 Market Description

    3.5.5.3.1 Description Market Evaluation

    The amount of nuclear waste (U.S.) to be disposed of as of the year 2000 is estimated to be 40,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel and 10,000 metric tons of defense wastes. To be launched from Earth, the nuclear waste must be shielded to protect it during a possible launch failure, so the effective total mass to be launched is significantly higher.

    3.5.5.3.2 Market Evaluation

    Nuclear waste disposal is an expensive business. The DOE waste operations budget for 1990-1996 is $22.3 billion with an additional $2.2 billion for technology development. The Utility Waste Fund in 1993 is valued at greater than $6 billion. The waste fund is paid from a $0.001-kW/h nuclear waste disposal tax on nuclear power plants. At a current power production level of 100 gigawatts, the tax adds about $500 million a year.

    By the year 2030, nuclear power is expected to grow to 190-250 gigawatts, adding over $1 billion per year to the waste fund. Currently the first permanent repository is expected to cost $28 billion and the second to cost $17 billion. Therefore, the operating budget for this study is taken to be $43 billion, although more money may be available if space disposal is perceived to be more palatable to the public than currently proposed methods.

    In fact, the issue of public acceptance is arguably the most important driver in the development of a commercial space disposal venture. Any economic benefit of space disposal is moot if regulation and protest prevent operations. The effort that will be required in convincing people of the safety of this concept cannot be overstated.

    3.5.5.3.3 Market Assessment

    There is a tremendous stockpile of high-level nuclear waste in this country left over from 50 years of bombbuilding and 35 years of nuclear power generation. With the ending of the Cold War there is additional plutonium to dispose of in the safest way possible. In addition, the rest of the world, especially the former Soviet Union, has an abundance of high-level waste. Worldwide high-level waste will approach 100,000 metric tons by the year 2000 based on nuclear power generation data. Some of that waste is currently being processed (glassified) for above-ground storage (e.g., in France), but most will be sitting in temporary storage tanks in the year 2000.

    Buried sites like Yucca Mountain offer long-term storage at moderate cost, but it is very difficult to prove no leakage over geological times because our database is not sufficient. This point is used by environmentalists to raise local opposition to proposed permanent depositories. As a result, the agreement defining the Yucca Mountain site states that after 50 years of operation the overall performance will be reviewed and a majority vote of Congress can close the facility and have all the waste removed. The agreement also states the second disposal site will be on the U.S. East Coast. That will be a very difficult sell.

    An alternative to space disposal is transmutation of the long half-life radioactives to short-lived radioactives that decay away in 20 to 30 years While physically possible, this may be technically and economically unfeasible. This approach is discussed in depth in Section 3.5.5.6.

    Hence, our assessment is that the market for permanent disposal of high-level nuclear waste is huge, easily enough to justify major investments in infrastructure, and that space disposal provides a very valid alternative to ground disposal.

    3.5.5.3.4 Market Infrastructure

    The principal infrastructure required in addition to the space transportation system is a ground-processing facility to load the shipping canisters. We are planning only simple mechanical and chemical separation, but the Federal moratorium on processing has prevented any processing of spent fuel rods for the last 20 years.

    That moratorium is supposed to have been withdrawn, but if not, it will have to be rescinded before launch operations can begin. As will be discussed later, nuclear waste is best "aged" for about 10 years prior to processing to reduce the thermal loads from radioactive decay. Ground depositories such as Yucca Mountain would serve as excellent sites to temporarily store spent fuel prior to processing and launch.

    3.5.5.4 Prospective Users

    The U.S. customers for this service are the U.S. Government (in particular the Department of Energy) and the utility companies. It is possible that disposal of hazardous wastes could someday be an international concern and be controlled by the United Nations, but that is pure speculation at this time.

    CSTS members held discussions with DOE, with informal exchanges conducted with members of Electrical Power Research Institute (EPRI), a number of West Coast utilities, and Greenpeace.

    3.5.5.5 CSTS Needs and Attributes

    Nuclear waste canisters do not care when or how they get to the LEO transfer station. They can fly on regularly scheduled launches that are undersubscribed or they can fly on dedicated launches that fill in holes in the launch schedule. They are small and dense, so they are easy to integrate.

    However, they are going to be radioactive and thermally active. How radioactive and how much heat is radiated was determined by quantifying various sample waste products. This data show the thermal radiation of concentrated nuclear waste 2 years after removal from the reactor to be about 180 kw/ton. After 10 years heat production has dropped by roughly an order of magnitude, and it decays very slowly after that.

    Hence, we recommend the spent fuel rods be aged for 10 years at a temporary repository prior to processing and packaging in the GPHS canisters. The canisters are designed to withstand the thermal flux from 238PuO2, which is 0.4 kwth/gm, or twice the worst flux expected from the concentrated spent fuel waste. On the other hand, the spent fuel waste radiates a large fraction of its energy as gamma particles unlike 238PuO2, which is an alpha emitter.

    This further reduces the thermal load on the canisters but causes problems with ground handling and sharing a payload bay with live animals. The extent of the problem with gamma radiation will depend on the age and specific mix of nuclear waste and has not been fully quantified at this time.

    3.5.5.5.1 Transportation System Characteristics

    Two scenarios for placing the waste canisters of the lunar surface were examined: a reusable spacecraft that travels round-trip from LEO to the surface of the Moon, and a partially reusable spacecraft that positions a dumb solid rocket lander on a precise lunar intercept trajectory and then returns to LEO.

    The first LEO-to-lunar transportation scenario involves a space-based reusable spacecraft. In this scenario, nuclear waste is brought to LEO as secondary- or low-priority payload on a LEO launch vehicle. The waste is accumulated at a LEO node and transferred to the lunar transfer vehicle (LTV). The LTV takes its cargo to the Moon, expending its translunar injection tanks and lunar descent tanks. The LTV returns to the LEO node where it picks up its cargo and full tanks for its next mission.

    A mission timeline and Delta-Vs are given in figure 3.5.5.5-1. The mission time from LEO to LEO is 187 hours, or almost 8 days. Adding 1 day at LEO for refueling and loading gives a total mission time of 9 days.


    EventDelta-VDelta-T
    (meters/sec)(hours)
    ACS separation/coast60.8
    MPS TLI burn33000.3
    ACS coast/corrections1084.0
    MPS LOI burn10750.1
    ACS brake/tanks separation120
    MPS deorbit600.1
    MPS lunar descent/landing19202.1
    Cargo offload012.0
    MPS ascent18222.0
    MPS TEI burn10750.1
    ACS coast/corrections1884.0
    Aero-assist maneuver00.1
    MPS orbit circularization3100.1
    Rendezvous with LEO node121.0
    Total9620186.7
    NOTES:
  • ACS = attitude control system
  • MPS = main propulsion system
  • TLI = trans lunar injection
  • LOI = lunar orbit insertion
  • TEI = trans-Earth injection
  • Figure 3.5.5.5-1. Mission Timeline for Reusable Lander Vehicle

    The second LEO-to-lunar transportation scenario involves a space-based reusable propulsion module (
    Fig. 3.5.5.5-2). In this scenario, nuclear waste is brought to LEO attached to small solid-rocket landers. Full tanksets are also launched to orbit, and the assembled vehicle delivers the landers to a lunar impact trajectory and expends its translunar injection tankset .

    The propulsion module returns to the LEO node where it picks up its cargo and full tanks for its next mission. The mission time from LEO to LEO is 170 hours or about 7 days. Adding 1 day at LEO for refueling and loading gives a total mission time of 8 days.



    Figure 3.5.5.5-2. Conceptual Partially Reusable Transfer Stage

    3.5.5.5.2 Transportation System Capabilities

    It is obvious that the transportation system, perceived as the weak link in the disposal concept, will need to pay special attention to the safe delivery of its cargo. As scheduling the launches with certainty is not as important a capability as for other CSTS markets, the operator has some flexibility in launching when it is most prudent, Ideally, the launch system must be at least as safe and reliable as terrestrial delivery systems, such as rail transport.

    This level of reliability is arguably still for in the future, even if a commercial system embodied redundancy, health monitoring, engine-out, and so forth, in its design. It is more likely that the payload can be encapsulated in a way that ensures that zero waste is released, even in worst case launch vehicle failure.

    There is a precedent for this in the launching of thermoisotope generators on interplanetary probes. In fact, for this baseline analysis, our concept for shielding is to use the already-space-qualified general purpose heat source (GPHS) containers. Each GPHS container holds 32.8 lbm of 238Pu fuel and 27.1 lbm of shielding, giving a 0.83 shield-to-fuel ratio. The container has a 3D graphite aeroshell designed to withstand reentry and an impact of 165 ft/s. In order to size the transport system to the Moon, the following assumptions are made:


    Mass of high level waste50,000 metric tons
    Shield to fuel ratio0.83
    Mass of shielding41,000 metric tons
    Total mass to lunar surface91,000 metric tons

    With a payload to the moon of 91,000,000 kg, either vehicle must make several thousand trips (
    Fig. 3.5.5.5-3). For this reason, preprocessing of the waste at the launch site is very attractive. If three vehicles are used on a 9-day cycle, 100 missions can be accomplished in 300 days, leaving 65 days a year for maintenance and repair. Given a lifetime of 10 years for the spacecraft, only 12 transfer vehicles need to be built for the large round-trip lander, compared to 50 for the small one-way lander.
    ParameterRound-Trip Lander ConceptOne-Way Lander Concept
    DELTA-V9,620 m/s6,432 m/s
    Cargo to lunar surface25,000 kg3,222 kg
    Total dry mass in LEO48,000 kg4,170 kg
    Total flights3,00028,260
    Years to complete with 100 flights per year30283
    Number of core stages1094

    Figure 3.5.5.5-3. Vehicle Comparison (No Preprocessing)

    With preprocessing at the launch site, the number of missions and costs fall roughly by a factor of 30. This allows waste disposal over a reasonable time period using LEO delivery masses of interests to other users (
    Fig. 3.5.5.5-4).
    ParameterRound-Trip Lander ConceptOne-Way Lander Concept
    DELTA-V9,620 m/s6,432 m/s
    NOWRAPCargo to lunar surface25,000 kg3,222 kg
    Total dry mass in LEO48,000 kg4,170 kg
    Total flights100942
    Years to complete with 25 flights per year438
    Number of core stages219

    Figure 3.5.5.5-4. Vehicle Comparison (With Launch Site Preprocessing)

    3.5.5.5.3 Ground Handling

    Disposing of hazardous waste in space isolates it from our biosphere, removing the threat to future generations. However, to be economically practical we need to eliminate most of the nonhazardous material from the waste and only pay to launch the truly hazardous material.

    To accomplish, this we propose to move the spent fuel rods to the launch site and then (1) cut open the spent fuel rods, separate the fuel from the cladding, compress the cladding and bury it in low-level waste repositories, (2) chemically separate the uranium oxides from the spent fuel and recycle them as reactor fuel, and (3) put the remaining material into GPHS canisters designed for space launch and launch them promptly to a transfer station in LEO. By not separating isotopes, we believe we can keep the ground processing cheap (less than $100/lb), relatively free from public/political controversy, and environmentally safe.

    Figure 3.5.5.5-5 presents preliminary cost estimates for ground processing from a DOE Environmental Impact Statement on Management of Commercially Generated Radioactive Waste, October 1980.


    Ground Processes Cost (1978 $/kg)
    Reactor to interim storage 3
    Short-term interim storage 8
    Removal of HLW and packaging in GPHS 60
    Compaction of Zr clad 14
    Storage of Zr/U as LLW 1
    Noncombustible and failed equipment 20
    Incineration of combustibles 6
    Removal of gaseous products 13
    Atmospheric protection system 2
    Total $127/kg

    Figure 3.5.5.5-5. Ground Processing Cost Buildup

    To quantify the type and mass of the remaining material after the two-step processing discussed above, we will provide an example based on a series of ORIGEN computer runs provided by Sandia National Laboratory
    (ref. 4). This example includes the ORIGEN2.1 output for Sequoyah Unit 2, with the model based on a reactor power of 3411 MWth for 2 years.

    The fuel loading assumed was 88,563 kg of Uranium @ 2.535 enrichment. The basis point was 1.5 years after removal. After 1.5 years in cooling pool, the rods have 83.09 metric tons of actinides, 5.4 tons of fission products, and 30.3 tons of activation products. Removal of the cladding and unreacted uranium oxide reduces this to 2.74 tons of material to be loaded into GPHS containers and launched.

    With a typical GPHS ratio of container mass to fuel of 0.83, we estimate a total mass for this example of 5.01 metric tons. If we assume the Sequoyah Unit 2 produced 1100 MWe of power at a 65% online factor, this would equate to 12.53X109 kW/h of electricity over the 2 years. At the $0.001-kW/h millage, if we were to operate with just the money set aside, we must dispose of 5.01 tons of loaded containers for $12.53 million, or $2500/kg delivered to the Moon. Note that the current DOE disposal plan will require the equivalent of three times this cost. This example is thought to be representative of spent nuclear reactor fuel, but many more cases are necessary to quantify possible separation scenarios and disposal of the many types of nuclear waste.

    3.5.5.5.4 User/Space Transportation Interfaces

  • a. Autonomous access to pad, mechanical only interface.
  • b. Cryogenic propellant transfer to payload bay.
  • c. Thermal heat rejection capability of up to 10 kW.
  • 3.5.5.5.5 Improvements Over Current

  • a. Reliability such that vehicle loss rate ≤1/1000.
  • b. Launch costs less than $600/lb.
  • 3.5.5.6 Business Opportunities

    The majority of nuclear waste is in the form of spent fuel rods, and they current belong to the electric utility companies. The government, in the form of the DOE, has committed to accept legal liability and responsiblity for this waste in 1998 and begin storing it in a semipermanent depository in 2010. That effort is not on schedule and becomes less likely all the time. Hence, there is a valid business opportunity to offer an alternative permanent solution that is cost competitive and more salable to Congress and the environmental movement.

    According to the cost assessments shown below space disposal has a lower life cycle cost than ground disposal and could be available in the same timeframe with moderate investments in new hardware (other than a new launch system). Hence, there is a legitimate opportunity to negotiate an anchor tenant agreement with either the electric utility companies or the DOE to permanently dispose of the U.S. and overseas nuclear waste. Right now space disposal is the moderate technical risk option but there is a higher risk major competitor, as discussed below. The major competitor for removing nuclear waste from the biosphere (other than ground storage, which does not remove the waste, but only stores it) is nuclear transmutation.

    The Grumman Corporation and Los Alamos National Energy Lab are looking at the feasibility of accelerated transmutation of waste using a high-energy particle beam system. Conceptually, such a system would be capable of transforming the atomic nuclei of the waste into other radioactive elements with a shorter half-life.

    The device to be used in the accelerator transmutation of waste (ATW) is a product of past Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO) research into directed-energy weapons and would use a derivative of the neutral particle-beam-based Continuous Waste Deuterium Demonstration (CWDD) program. The concept involves scaling up a charged particle accelerator beam until it produces a very dense and energetic beam of protons.

    These protons are then directed onto a lead or tungsten target. The protons interact with the target and produce highly energetic neutrons. Beyond the target a heavy-water or graphite "blanket" slows down the neutrons into an energy range such that they can interact with the nuclei of radioactive materials loaded into a target zone, and changes them into less-radioactive or inert materials. Meanwhile a continuous slipstream processor collects and separates the processed materials from the unprocessed materials in a continuous flow separation system.

    Using this system, the ATW process is projected to result in very low-level, short-lived waste products, and short-lived species byproducts. The goal of this program is to get everything of significant activity to a 30-year half-life. The status of the program is currently at conceptual stage.

    The ATW program currently is looking for at $30 to 50 million in government funding from the DOE for a conceptual study of an accelerator to produce a neutron beam that would be used to irradiate samples of nuclear waste. After this conceptual study, then a demonstration and test program is expected before this can be committed to for reprocessing of nuclear fuel or waste.

    There is an industry working group of Grumman, Westinghouse Electric, TRW Space & Defense, Lockheed Missiles & Space, Rockwell, Thomson, General Atomics, Litton Electron Devices, BDM Engineering Services, and Babcock & Wilcox, which is working to understand this technology. It was hoped that this project would receive TRP (Technology Reinvestment Program) funding for defense conversion work, but at this time no funding has been received. This information was provided by Grumman senior program engineer Timothy Myers and Anthony Favale, Grumman's deputy director of energy systems.

    CSTS Comment - There are technical, political, and financial issues to be resolved with this system. The technical issues involved in this concept involve the beam system and the slipstream processor.

    The charged particle beam will have to achieve orders of magnitude of greater beam flux than current systems and orders of magnitude greater beam duration of operating time. (The current beam is a pulsed beam, and for effective transmutation the beam must be continuous.) The slipstream processor itself will be a technical challenge.

    The processor must work continuously separating out the transmuted materials from the nontransmuted products. This will involve continuous flow chemistry and separation, working with highly radioactive and rather nasty chemical substances, while the beam is running. And the separation system may have to separate between substances with different isotopes, but almost identical chemistry.

    The political barrier is that there is currently an executive order prohibiting reprocessing of nuclear waste. This executive order was put into force primarily to recognize issues with waste reprocessing and the separation of controlled substances such as plutonium from existing nuclear waste stocks, including spent nuclear fuel.

    To demonstrate the slipstream processor needed to demonstrate the continuous flow reprocessing, this executive order will have to be changed. (It should be noted that the space disposal of nuclear waste will also have this problem, although the levels and complexity of the reprocessing are much simpler in the space disposal option.)

    The final barrier for this system is cost. The final cost of developing a transmutation system for nuclear waste is unknown, but estimates for the cost of adding such a system to handle the disposal of commercial nuclear electric power wastes project the addition of costs to the generation costs of nuclear power, increasing the average price of electricity from 3% to 10% This represents a recurring cost from $5 billion per year to $17.5 billion per year. This compares to a cost of $1.2 billion per year for space disposal at $600/lb.

    The time scale for this project potentially places it in the same time period as a new launch system. The current expectation is that an ATW system would require a conceptual study, then a demonstration system (including the nuclear chemistry demonstration, the continuous flow/separation system, and the beam power and duration scaleup), and then commitment to an operational system.

    From the market contract, the time to proceed to the first unit of an operational system ranges from 8 to 15 years, depending upon funding and the results of each stage of the program. The time scale to the operation of a small-scale fully operational demonstration system may be as little as 8 years, with the longer time period assuming 2 years for the conceptual study, 8 years in development of the demonstration system, and another 5 years to put the first operational unit into operation.

    3.5.5.6.1 Cost Sensitivities

    First-order cost estimates for the lunar transfer hardware were made using cost estimating relationships (CER) provided by General Dynamics (Fig. 3.5.5.6-1). The complexity factor is taken to be less for the expendable spacecraft than the reusable spacecraft. The costs of the expendable tanks are estimated separately for the reusable spacecraft because they will need to be replaced each flight. For units after the first, the cost is estimated using a learning curve. The cost is estimated for both cases using the dry mass of the vehicle.
    DDT&EFirst Article Cost
    CER (cost =)16.175*(WT^0.5)0.4266*(WT^0.693)
    Complexity factor expendable lander0.70.5
    Complexity factor reusable spacecraft11
    Complexity factor expendable tanks0.230.065

    Figure 3.5.5.6-1. Cost Estimating Relationships

    This cost estimate does not include the ground processing facility that would need to be developed, nor the LEO node where the space-based propulsion/avionics module is stored. In this estimate, we will assume $2 billion for developing the necessary ground and LEO facilities. The expendable lander option can be accomplished with payload sizes of interest to many users, and has a large DDT&E savings and lower life cycle costs relative to the reusable lander (
    Figs. 3.5.5.6-2 and -3). However, it does require more years to complete disposal.

    If no ground processing is done then the entire 51,000 metric tons of waste must be loaded into GPHS containers and the total cost estimates including launch to LEO are $210 billion for the round trip to the surface system and $149 billion for the reusable TLI stage with expendable lander. This assumes a launch cost of $100/lb to LEO, which is the lower limit used in the CSTS discussions. Obviously, hauling the entire undifferentiated nuclear waste package to the Moon is not economically feasible.

    If the nuclear waste is treated with the simple mechanical and chemical separation described above, and only 3% of the remaining material containing the most hazardous portion of the fuel rods is shipped to space, then the total cost of disposal falls to $35.8 billion for the round-trip system and $27.8 billion for the expendable lander system.

    This is at a launch cost of $500/lb ($1100/kg), so if the fuel can be partially processed at the launch site, space disposal presents an economically attractive alternative.


    Total Nuclear Waste, mT50000MPS Isp, sec470
    Waste fraction from grd process0.03Dry mass in LEO, mT12.6
    Waste fraction from LEO process1Mass in LLO, mT17.13
    Drop tank mass fraction0.06MPS ascent DV, m/s1822
    Total flights109.8Mass after unload, mT25.44
    Total drop tanks659LTS payload, mT25
    Drop tanks learning curve0.85MPS descent DV, m/s1920
    Drop tank TFU, $M8.18Mass in LLO, mT78.08
    Avg drop tank cost, $M2.32MPS LOI burn, m/s1075
    Grnd processing costs, $/kg100Coast mass, mT99.84
    Launch costs, $kg1100MPS TLI burn, m/s3300
    Launch costs waste to LEO, $B3.02LEO start burn Mass, mT210.63
    Launch-lunar prop and tanks, $B20.9Prop + tank mass/flight173.03
    Total launch costs, $B23.92Drop tank mass, mT1.66
    Total grnd process costs, $B5
    DDT&E costs, $B5.2
    Hardware costs, $B1.68
    Total disposal cost, $B35.8Delivery costs, $/kg8713.15

    Figure 3.5.5.6-2. Total Nuclear Waste Disposal Costs Using Reusable Lunar Lander Scenario

    Total nuclear waste, mT50,000MPS isp, sec470
    Waste fraction from grd process0.03Dry mass in LEO, mT12.6
    Waste fraction from LEO process1Mass in transfer orbit, mT3.3
    Drop tank mass fraction0.06LTS payload, mT8
    Total flights343.125Lander mass fraction0.2
    Total No. of DT and landers343Lander Isp, sec300
    Lander and DT learning curve0.85Lander descent DV, m/s2520
    Lander TFU, $M11.17Lander mass, mT21.02
    Ave lander cost, $M3.69
    Drop tank TFU, $M8.38Trans-lunar coast mass, mT24.32
    Ave drop tank cost, $M2.77MPS TLI burn, m/s3300
    Ground processing costs, $/kg100LEO startburn mass, mT53.02
    Launch costs, $/kg1100Stage mass/Flt deliv to LEO42.52
    Launch costs waste to LEO, $B3.02Drop tank mass, mT1.66
    Launch-lunar prop and tanks, $B15.06Flights/year17
    Total launch costs, $B19.07Mass to LEO/year, MT 866.702
    DDT&E costs, $B1.5
    Ground processing, $B5
    Hardware costs, $B2.22
    Total disposal cost, $B27.78Delivery costs, $/kg6946.24

    Figure 3.5.5.6-3. Total Nuclear Waste Disposal Costs Using Expendable Lunar Lander Scenario

    Note that within these spreadsheets, assumptions were made as to the ground processing costs. The sensitivity of the total disposal cost to variations in average launch cost and ground processing costs is shown in
    Figure 3.5.5.6-4.

    Figure 3.5.5.6-4. Nuclear Waste Disposal Costs Versus Ground Processing and Launch Costs

    3.5.5.7 Conclusions and Recommendations

    Disposal of hazardous waste could represent a huge market attainable with launch costs achievable using near term technologies. The political and public perception issues to overcome are enormous and should be addressed continuously, beginning now.

    This market can be captured with launch costs as high as $500/lb to $600/lb and will average approximately 2,000,000 lb per year over 30 years of operation. The following recommendations are made for follow-on studies:

  • a. For disposal of hazardous waste on the moon to be viable, it must be shown to be less risky than burying it underground. A risk assessment, including public perception of risk, is necessary.
  • b. Because the shielding of the waste containers is designed to withstand Earth reentry and impact, a hard landing on the Moon may be possible. Using a high-acceleration rocket fired just before impact to almost stop the lander and then letting it fall the rest of the way to the surface has been examined. A cost trade of lander Delta-V versus impact velocity and probability of burying the canister should be completed.
  • c. The cost of a dedicated unmanned LEO node to transfer the waste to the lunar spacecraft may be significant and should be estimated.
  • d. The development of ground infrastructure should be considered, such as the transport of waste to the launch pad, storage of waste while waiting for launch, and possible waste processing.
  • e. Decide if hazardous waste other than high-level nuclear waste could also be disposed of on the Moon profitably.
  • 3.5.6 Space Tourism

    The topic of space tourism is covered in several sections of this report. The intent of this section's discussion is to focus on the commercial viability of the transportation elements associated with space tourism. Tourism is a multibillion dollar business annually with a continuing annual growth increase. Space tourism is an extension of the current tourism market activity. Currently, people pay large sums of money for unique Earthbound adventures to satisfy their natural need for experiencing the unusual.

    Space tourism to low Earth orbit (LEO) can become an economically viable industry if the proper conditions exist. The tourism market is primed and ready for the introduction of space travel as a means of recreation. The Cruise Line International Association of New York City reported that over three million Americans took oceangoing cruises in 1989 and that the average cost expended by each traveler was in excess of $7,000. The journalist William Buckley organizes a trip once a year to fly around the world with a few stopping-off points for the passengers. The cost for this trip -$60,000 to $80,000 per person. From information taken from Space Tourism, The Unbelievable Market by G. Harry Stine, regular service would be provided with one space plane flight to LEO and return every day.

    This requires a fleet of at least four vehicles. Service could be provided from existing airports or from newly constructed launch/recovery pads. The only new ground servicing facilities required would be a fuel storage facility and a fueling facility. A turnaround time of 24 hours with no more than 200 maintenance labor hours would be expected. The reliability would have to be at least comparable to existing air transportation systems. The ultimate goal would be to provide a system that could operate on a per-flight budget of around $2 million. If a space plane could carry 110 passengers, the required price would be $18,181.

    This represents less than 25% of the William Buckley around-the-world tours. With these statistics, it is not hard to conceive of the tourist market being able support space travel.

    A space transportation system must have the same economic and operational factors as other successful transportation systems. The system must be available to customers on short demand; costs and pricing structures must allow a reasonable profit margin; the system must be capable of operating without a standing army of support personnel; and, operating facilities must offer multiuser capabilities so that they can be more cost effective.

    3.5.6.1 Introduction/Statement of Problem

    Recreational space travel for the average person has been a dream for decades. Technologically, we possess the knowledge to design and build a transportation system capable of routine and somewhat safe carriage of human passengers to and from Earth orbit. Many previous studies (ref. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14,) have extolled the attractions of space tourism as one element of the huge tourism industry that exists in the world of today and in the projected future.

    Indeed, the sum financial total of man's activities in space to date pale by comparison to the potential space tourism market. As many of these studies have pointed out, the key to financial success (assuming governments are uninterested in a long-term subsidy) lies in significant reduction of the cost of operating the transportation elements.

    While there are many useful analogies to other segments of the tourism industry (e.g., cruise ship operations) that have been used to suggest traffic models and available income, a significant idiosyncrasy of space tourism is the relatively high cost of the transportation hardware. The ability to amortize the development and manufacture of new vehicles with even a substantial portion of the annual revenues may not be possible.

    The objective of the analysis presented in this report is to formulate economic requirements for any new space transportation system and to answer the fundamental question concerning the feasibility of developing the space tourism market: Can the vehicle be developed and a fleet built and operated for the magnitude of money that can be reasonably expected to be generated from passenger revenue?

    3.5.6.2 Study Approach

    There are several ways to estimate the elasticity, or price/demand curve, for tourism. One method is to conduct a market survey, or opinion poll. There have been several surveys performed that included space tourism questionnaires. The most often cited study was performed by Society Expeditions in the mid 1980's4.

    The drawbacks of this method include the limited sample size and a questionable correlation between survey results and actual ticket purchases. Questions must be phrased to address the specific information that investors would need to know before proceeding with a tourism venture. To date, our understanding of the breadth and depth of this information is too limited to credibly create a useful survey. We have contacted the U.S. Travel Data Center, in Washington, D.C., which has agreed to perform a nationwide space tourism survey. Sponsored by the travel industry, it is experienced in developing and phrasing the proper questions to correlate responses with actual sales.

    Another approach to determining the space tourism market is to explore analogous terrestrial travel ventures. Oceangoing cruise lines operate ships worth hundreds of millions of dollars and offer a glimpse of the financial decisions involved when developing, financing, and profitably operating expensive assets. Exploring the growing market for exotic travel and/or ecotourism services sheds some light on the high-end tourist. We have contacted both cruise line companies and "adventure" travel groups. While we found some interest in both groups, quantitative data were very limited. (A summary of contacts is found in app. E.1-1.)

    The third method to determining elasticity is to model the space tourism market parametrically by varying the economic factors that are likely to determine demand. An objective tool for examining the development of a space tourism vehicle was created for this purpose. For the purposes of this analysis, multiple uses for the transportation system (as well as the accompanying sources of development funding) were excluded.

    Prior efforts to characterize the economics of space tourism were based on a top-down approach, depicted in Figure 3.5.6.2-1. Typically, a concept for tourism is proposed first: either a vehicle design, an orbiting hotel concept, or a marketing approach, such as the "adventure travel" extrapolation from exotic terrestrial travel to spaceflight. A cost analysis of the concept is performed next, leading to a form of market analysis to determine the ticket price that results in a profit for the operator. Finally, one can speculate on whether people will buy a ticket at that price. While this approach is fundamentally sound, it is easy to create an optimistic view of the space tourism market by assumptions or ground rules that are based on sketchy projections and cost estimating.

    An alternative approach to defining the space tourism market, a "bottoms-up" technique, was developed. Also shown in Figure 3.5.6.2-1, the first step here was to define the pool of monies available by modeling the world's population in terms of annual income. From this, the percentage of people with the financial means to travel and the interest in traveling to space is defined, resulting in an estimate of the annual cash flow available for the space tourism operator/developer, as well as an idea of what the fleet size and vehicle passenger capacity would have to be.

    Then one can conceptualize concepts to fit the size and turnaround guidelines suggested from the previous steps. The costs of the concepts are estimated, and an assessment is made of whether or not the vehicle can be developed, built, and operated at a profit.



    Figure 3.5.6.2-1. The "Top-Down" Versus the "Bottoms-Up" Approaches To Analyze Demand

    As a "sanity check," an independent but similar parametric model was developed based on the distribution of household income. This second model was based on an assumption that, for an expensive vacation, households were more likely to travel together than as individuals. These two models turned out to agree in the magnitude of the estimates of traffic and the resultant conclusions regarding the commercial viability of space tourism.

    3.5.6.3 Market Description

    Before proceeding, it is helpful to postulate likely aspects of the space tourism industry. First, some general categories of likely tourism scenarios are outlined, followed by some discussions of broad groupings of requirements. These categories are technical, regulatory/legal, and risk control. Later on, when the model produces a cost value, for example, one should scrutinize that number with these other "requirements/ desirements" in mind.

    3.5.6.3.1 Description Market Evaluation

    There are several potential paths for space tourism; which path is most likely to occur may be influenced less by pure technical considerations than by the desires of the investors in a space tourism enterprise. Categorizing alternative approaches here is intended to highlight some operational differences that have direct bearing on development cost and fleet size. The following list is approximately in order of complexity but may or may not be evolutionary: potential operators would conduct their own market analyses to ascertain what "niches" to pursue.

  • a. "Joyride"-Passengers would board a high-speed vehicle and experience an exhilarating, relatively short (in hours) ride suborbitally or up to a few orbits in duration. This scenario implies most of the cost of operation is related to the transportation elements and would probably feature rapid turnaround of reusable hardware.
  • b. Orbital Visit-Tourists visit a fairly simple orbital facility (such as Space Station Freedom or MIR) for durations of 3 to 10 days. Amenities are few and the transportation elements would probably be small (few passengers) to be consistent with the orbital facility. The percentage of the revenues that can be applied to the transportation vehicles is smaller than in the "joyride" scenario.
  • c. Space Hotel-Large numbers of tourists would stay at a multifeatured orbital facility. Both 0g and positive g zones would be available for living, playing, and looking out numerous windows. The percentage of the revenues that can be applied to the transportation vehicles is much smaller than in the "joyride" scenario.
  • d. Lunar Flyby-An Apollo 8-type mission where passengers experience 0g, the starry blackness of space, and views of the Moon and distant Earth. Vehicle development costs are significant.
  • e. Lunar "Hilton" and Beyond-Space resorts and more ambitious ventures are in a financial realm that is unlikely to occur if at least one of the previously listed space tourism ventures has not proved successful.
  • Over time the makeup of the tourism market will change. Initially, joyrides could justify a venture (in fact, the Society Expedition survey results show a healthy demand for joyrides); in later years, a destination will be required to sustain a space tourism industry.

    3.5.6.3.2 Market Evaluation

    The world's appetite for tourism continues to grow at a rate higher than the average gross domestic product of the nations' economies. By the time a manned commercial space transport would become available early in the next century, humans will spend about a trillion dollars a year on tourism. Of course, there are many choices that the traveling public has in vacations. Given the response to previous opinion polls on space, it is safe to assume some reasonable percentage of that huge market would migrate to space tourism if it were available.

    One of the fastest growing areas in recent years in the tourism business is high-end, exotic tours. By combining exotic destinations with a learning experience, travelers find significant value added to their leisure time. This trend fits well with space tourism.

    3.5.6.3.3 Market Assessment

    For space tourism to be a financially viable enterprise, not only must there be a sizable potential market of interested individuals from which to draw the passengers, but the price must also be affordable to these people. (For most, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.) The challenge of space tourism is to provide a service that has sufficient attraction to a large number of people and to provide this service at a cost that is affordable to a large enough share of the potential market so that they will avail themselves of the opportunity.

    To establish the economic feasibility of this market, the CSTS team performed two "bottoms up" analyses to define the global market based upon annual income. (See app. E.1.2 for details.) Within that reduced market we further decreased the size by introducing age considerations and a "likelihood factor" to reflect the percentage that will make the trip.

    Our starting point is the development of a worldwide income distribution by aggregating the populations of countries with per capita incomes similar to that of the United States. For the remaining, less wealthy, world population, 5% was assumed to have upper income levels similar to the United States. These statistics were obtained from the World Almanac with populations adjusted to the year 2020. From this information, the number of households worldwide with income levels comparable to U.S. standards is four to five times greater than just U.S. statistics alone.

    Specifically, the U.S. income distribution statistics was multiplied by a factor of 4.62 to arrive at the worldwide households with equivalent income levels. The number of worldwide households with incomes above a specified level is shown in Figure 3.5.6.3-1 below. World wealth is growing at an uninflated rate of roughly 2% a year compounded. Thus, by the 2020, these population statistics could grow by another 67% (but not applied in this paper). The distinction between households and people is that for each household in the United Stated in 1991 there was an average of 2.63 people.

    Income distributions have been collected by households from the three sources shown in Figure 3.5.6.3-1, below: (1) 1990 census data, (2) the 1989 Adjusted Gross Income Tax Statistics, and (3) the 1992 Statistical Abstract of the United States. The income statistics used in this study were for households with adults aged 25 to 55. Below this age band, it is assumed that there is insufficient household income, and above the age band, physiological restrictions will prevail.


    Household Income Level1990 Census Data (Millions)1992 USA Statistical Handbook (Millions)USA 1989 Income Tax Statistics - Returns not Households (Millions)US Household 25-55 Age Group (Millions)Worldwide Household 25-55 Age Group (Millions)
    $50K22.5224.615.8316.7377.29
    $75K>8.749.75.926.6730.81
    $100K+4.042.873.7517.33
    $150K+1.441.501.677.72
    $200K+0.520.780.944.34
    $300K+0.470.562.59
    $500K+0.170.1940.896
    $750K+0.100.06670.308
    $1,000K+0.060.03751.73
    $1,500K+0.01890.01670.0772

    Figure 3.5.6.3-1. The Number of U.S. Households in the Different Economic Strata

    Having defined the worldwide potential market, we next considered affordability. Our rule of thumb was that only households with an annual income equal to the ticket price, or greater, were financially able to afford the trip. Additionally, the more the annual income exceeds the ticket price, the more affordable the travel would be and the less likely the individual/family would be deterred from taking the trip. To account for this we defined the following rules:

  • a. If the annual income is less than the ticket price, the affordability factor is zero.
  • b. If the annual income is less than three times the ticket price, the affordability factor is the square of the ratio of the annual income divided by three times the ticket price.
  • c. If the annual income is greater than three times the ticket price, the affordability factor is the ratio of the annual income to three times the ticket price.
  • Within the set of households that can afford the trip, there is likelihood factor, defined as the percentage of households that will make the trip into space sometime during the 30-year window of opportunity, ages 25 to 55. The resulting number of passengers for different ticket prices and likelihood factors is computed using the worksheet in
    Figure 3.5.6.3-2.
    Household Income LevelThis Income or Higher(US)This Income or Higher(World)Number in this Stratum
    Affordability Factor
    Ticket Prices$135,0002003,50060,000
    Weight/person
    225
    $ per Pound
    $600
    $50,00016.7377,292,60046,477,2000000
    $75,0006.6730,815,40013,490,4000000
    $100,0003.7517,325,0009,609,6000000
    $150,0001.677,715,4003,372,6000.142,3131328
    $200,0000.944,342,8001,755,6000.242,1411227
    $300,0000.562,587,2001,690,9200.554,63926515
    $500,0000.194896,280588,1261.233,63020712
    $750,0000.0667306,154134,9041.851,249714
    $1,000,0000.0375173,25096,0962.471,186684
    $1,500,0000.016777,15477,1543.701,429826
    Households16,58794855
    People45,6252,495145
    Pounds into orbit9.820.580.08
    Figure 3.5.6.3-2. Annual Passengers Worldwide for Three Different Likelihood Factors

    We varied the likelihood factor over the range of 200 to 60,000 and developed relationships between the annual number of passsengers and the ticket price in constant year dollars ($CY92). In
    Figure 3.5.6.3-3, the upper curve represents the most optimistic case and is referred to as the "low" probability curve. The lowest curve is the most conservative and is the "high" probability curve. The following figure depicts the upper and lower bounds of annual passengers to ticket price.
    Figure 3.5.6.3-3. The Annual Passenger Demand for Different Ticket Prices

    The "medium" probability curve is defined as the "visual" medium between the high and low curves when plotted on a log-log scale. (The "medium" probability curve is defined as our most likely curve.) A firstorder approximation to the underlying equation for the predicted number of annual passengers at a given ticket price is an offset inverse exponential as given below:

    Y=c+(b / (X / s)Ea)

    The above relationship is used in the subsequent market and business models, where Y is the annual number of passengers and X is the expected ticket price in CY92 dollars. The three sets of coefficients corresponding to low (maximum market size), medium, and high (lowest market size) probability curves are given in Figure 3.5.6.3-4 below:


    HighMediumLow
    a.2.272.272.27
    b.6,233148,70018,000
    c.2161100
    s.10,00010,000100,000

    Figure 3.5.6.3-4. The Low, Medium, and High Probability Curve Coefficients

    3.5.6.3.4 Market Infrastructure

    As one more aspect of the tourism industry, a commercial space transportation system would likely interface with much of the terrestrial tourism infrastructure. Reservations, advertising, and financing will probably be handled by existing or spinoff travel companies. The point of embarkation (i.e., the launch pad) will need to be reasonably accessible to a major transportation hub, such as an international airport.

    One specialized aspect of the space tourism infrastructure will be a passenger familiarization/orientation facility. While formal crew training is probably impractical (and expensive), there will be some procedures and physical preparation that would be more extensive than the typical safety lecture presented on an airline flight.

    Tourism is the largest industry in the world, and equates to between 5% and 6% of the world's gross domestic product. According to the Madrid-based World Tourism Organization (per information extracted from the 4 January 1994 Orange County Register), international tourism receipts for 1993 were slightly more than $324 billion, which is 9% above the 1992 figure. Americans, on an average, spend $991 million per day on travel (data source is from the American Hotel and Motel Association as printed in a recent addition of USA TODAY). People are constantly seeking new adventures and are willing to pay premium dollars for these opportunities.

    Examples of this growing trend toward "exotic" travel are as follows:

  • a. Individual suites on round-the-world cruise ships, per Kloster Cruise Lines, run $300,000 per month,and are booked solid.
  • b. A permit to climb Mount Everest now costs $50,000 and there is a long waiting list.
  • c. The Russians are chartering one of their icebreakers at $19,000 per person for trips into the Arctic Circle, and they are completely sold out.
  • d. NASA offered rides in a flight simulator in the Denver area at $1,500 per hour and couldn't keep up with the demand.
  • Accordingly, the infrastructure associated with the largest industry in the world is extremely wide and diverse. Businesses that support the tourism industry range from the large, well-organized vacation/travel agencies all the way to the individual entrepreneur who serves as a travel guide in the swamps of New Guinea. In the same manner that it exhibits such a wide and diverse scope of support, the existing infrastructure is highly flexible and adaptable to new and developing markets. For the most part, the machinery to accommodate the needs of an evolving space tourism industry is in place. Passengers would enjoy the same comforts and assistance as provided by the travel industry today. The primary impact to the current infrastructure would most likely be in the direct support aspects of the space vehicle itself. This would encompass areas such as new/modified launch and recovery sites, maintenance facilities, propellant generation, and storage facilities. Support requirements for a new spaceport would include the following:

  • a. Proximity to existing transportation nodes (highway, rail, air).
  • b. Access to a high-capacity fuel-generation facility/depot (for example, if liquid hydrogen fuel is required, then availability of natural gas pipelines and a major electric power grid would be needed to convert the gas into the liquid fuel).
  • c. Availability of large hangers and maintenance equipment for performing the regularly scheduled preventive maintenance procedures.
  • d. A buffer zone surrounding the spaceport, which would protect the general populace from excessive noise levels associated with takeoff and landing operations, as well as providing a physical security perimeter to support access control operations.
  • e. Designated air corridors for departures and arrivals.
  • f. Connectivity to global communication networks to ensure constant ground-to-air coordination (similar to that used by NASA for controlling the shuttle operations).
  • 3.5.6.4 Prospective Users

    Although the primary thrust of this report is based on a "bottoms-up" financial analysis of the world population's annual income and the expected cash flow available for space tourism (Sec. 3.5.6.3), contacts were also made with various people in the tourism industry to get their views on the viability of a future space tourism market. The actual process of contacting people who could provide us with meaningful data (i.e., the CEOs, presidents, and high-level corporate officers) was a very time-consuming and frustrating task. These people have very effective screening procedures to eliminate what are perceived as prank calls and/or inquiries that do not appear to have any impact on their bottom line.

    We recognized "going in" that this would be a difficult obstacle to overcome, and so we prefaced each verbal contact with a special delivery Fed-X package that contained an introductory letter and a copy of the CSTS brochure that asks for the recipient to "Talk with us" . . . . We're contacting you to understand your needs and your vision of the future." With persistence, we managed to talk to several people who we believe have credible inputs to this study. The detailed results of these contacts are provided in appendix E.1.1 and are summarized as follows:

  • a. There is a tremendous demand for new and unusual touring experiences, and the level of this demand is increasing at a rate that is outpacing the supply (i.e., there are long waiting lists for these types of opportunities).
  • b. Initially, trips into space will be viewed as "fringe" type events that only the most adventuresome would ever consider. However, as spacelines develop with attributes similar to the present airlines, these journeys will be included as "standard fare" for the majority of people in the developing nations.
  • c. As this market segment matures, there will be opportunities for a wide variety of new businesses to develop on the "coattails" of space tourism. This vision includes destination facilities that cater to the public's interests in the same way as do resorts, health spas, and hotels, as well as medical facilities that provide unique services as enabled by a 0g environment.
  • d. There is a perceived need by many in our society to do that which their acquaintances have not yet done, which always feeds upon itself as new options to old things are enabled. In this perspective, there will always be a market for new and exotic vacations, and the revenue that can be captured is clearly dependent upon the number of people who will have the discretionary income to avail themselves of these opportunities.
  • 3.5.6.5 CSTS Needs and Attributes

    3.5.6.5.1 Transportation System Characteristics

    Technical Requirements. Space travel is inherently risky to humans, whether they are trained astronauts or paying tourists. Therefore, the primary set of technical requirements for space tourism should be related to the maximization of personnel safety. This is not merely a moral concern, but rather it represents essential business practice to minimize life cycle cost and maximize future markets.

    These requirements would generally include maximum reliability (including engine-out performance). Other technical requirements focus on personnel comfort. Optimizing performance (as has been the trend to date in rocket travel) is secondary to providing the least stressful environment on the amateur space traveler. Robust environmental control and life support systems, g-constrained trajectories, and numerous windows are requirements for tourists.

    Human tolerance to sustained acceleration depends on many factors. Some of the factors include:

  • a. Magnitude of the acceleration.
  • b. Duration of the acceleration.
  • c. Rate of onset and decline.
  • d. Physical condition/age.
  • e. Training.
  • f. Direction of the acceleration vector with respect to body position.
  • g. Type of g protection/couch.
  • h. Miscellaneous - motivation, lighting, temperature, etc.
  • Centrifuge tests have established approximate boundaries for acceleration limits, as shown in Figure 3.5.6.5-1. These tests may not be consistent with the "limits" that would be desired for a paying, unconditioned, non-professional astronaut passenger. It may seem fanciful, but a better resource for determining acceptable levels of acceleration may come from amusement park rides. Surveys at these facilities as well as "tests" could ascertain the point at which the majority of paying customers would find the experience too uncomfortable to tolerate.



    Figure 3.5.6.5-1. Linear Acceleration Limits for Unconditioned and Suitably Restrained Passengers

    The majority of concepts that are studied for new launch vehicles, and indeed all human experience in space to date, involve a vertical ascent rocket to get to orbit. Flight trajectories are essentially all of the gravity-turn type; that is, the effect of lift is essentially negligible. Rapid ascents reduce the gravity losses and hence minimize the total ideal DV (which implies a minimum propellant load). This performance optimization is particularly useful when one relates vehicle size to the cost of expendable hardware. For reusable hardware, the significance of minimum vehicle size is not as great when evaluating life cycle costs.

    Historically, the vibration and g loads on the crew members have certainly been higher than those one would hope to see in a routine passenger-carrying vehicle. Trajectories are rarely optimized to minimize g's: this tends to result in larger vehicles (more propellants for longer burntimes) and can only reduce the peak acceleration so much before physics dictates that the ascent can only be achieved through extremely light materials (high l') or rocket engines with extremely high throttle ranges (as high as 10:1 for an SSTO vehicle). In reality, the latter problem can be addressed by using several engines that are sequentially shut down. This assumes the total number of engines does not (a) affect overall reliability too adversely, (b) introduce unacceptable correlated failure modes, and (c) reduce overall thrust-to-weight performance significantly with the addition of extra plumbing, controls, and structure.

    Several trajectory optimizations were conducted for typical future space transportation concepts where the thrust-to-weight ratio (essentially the g's experienced less the effect of gravity) is held to some limit, the nonlifting trajectory compensates by burning longer, and the resultant propellant weight required is calculated. Since the vehicle gross liftoff mass was fixed, the weight injected on orbit (which includes the inert mass and the payload mass) is simply the gross mass less the propellant mass. By parametrically varying the mass fraction, l', one can determine the payload level (number of passengers). Conversely, for a given desired payload, one can find the resultant minimum mass fraction for an acceleration limit that the vehicle must meet in order to make orbit. Figure 3.5.6.5-2 depicts one example case. For the design point "X" shown, a postulated upper acceleration limit of 2 g's is desired.

    For this concept, the CSTS team believes a l' of 0.91 is possible; the resultant maximum payload is 20,000 lbm. Design point "Y" depicts a case where the maximum g level is thought to be 2.6 for a passenger load equivalent to 36,000 lbm; this implies the vehicle will not make orbit unless the designer can meet a minimum l' of 0.925. Analysis of several other nonlifting vehicle concepts resulted in similar trends of l', acceleration, and payload masses.



    Figure 3.5.6.5-2. Example Relationship Between Mass Fraction and Payload Mass for Acceleration Constrained Nonlifting Trajectories

    Note that there is break point at a thrust to weight ratio of 2.2 where the optimized trajectories change from a direct-injection type to one characterized as a boost/coast type ascent. In
    Figure 3.5.6.5-3 one can see the profound impact on time of flight (time of exposure to acceleration) with this shift in trajectory type. In Figure 3.5.6.5-4, this acceleration/time curve is superimposed on the (extrapolated) +Gx curve from Figure 3.5.6.5-1; note that the g-constrained trajectories fall well within the NASA physiological limits. There is also some evidence to suggest that minimizing the time when liquid rocket engines are firing results in improved overall reliability, although this effect may be secondary.

    If the physiological and/or psychological demands of these minimized g levels is still too high, then a significant requirement can be inferred: passenger vehicles for space tourism must use a lifting ascent. The technology for winged ascent vehicles has been studied extensively in the form of single and two-stage-to-orbit rocket-powered vehicles, and air-breathing vehicles such as the NASP.

    While some could claim such concepts are within reach, the fact remains that a full-size system has yet to fly and this, in turn, will be a factor in determining the likelihood of financial backing for a new venture.



    Figure 3.5.6-5-3. Example Relationship Between Time of Flight and Thrust-to-Weight Ratio for Acceleration Constrained Nonlifting Trajectories


    Figure 3.5.6.5-4. Linear Acceleration of g-Constrained Trajectories Is Within NASA Limits

    Regulatory/Legal Requirements. In the past, where orbital assets were financed, launched, and operated by a single government, property rights and jurisdiction issues fell under the law of the controlling government. There are several international space policy agreements in force that serve to guide the general framework of a private tourism venture. Additional regulation is certain to occur as commercial operations become routine so as to resolve questions of product liability, civil torts, and criminal law. A possible model for space tourism legal affairs may come from international cruise ship lines or from Antarctica tourist travel.

    In addition, space travel will always contain a degree of risk much higher than most nonrecreational terrestrial activities. A commercial venture must be able to limit financial liability through legislation, insurance standards, or some form of binding waiver. An interesting data point on what may be acceptable risk comes from a recent study of product liability cases (in 1992, some 12,000 cases were filed in federal courts). The study, conducted jointly by Design News and the Chicago law firm of Rooks, Pitts, and Poust, explored, among other things, jury perceptions. Nearly half the jurors believe that a product should be taken off the market if only one person in a million is seriously injured while using it. In the case of a commercial personnel transport of say, 100-person capacity, this translates to at best a single serious injury once every 10,000 flights. Safety regulations and international regulatory authorities will also have economic impacts on operations costs, and "taxes" as part of the ticket price.

    Risk Control Requirements. Managing technical risk is always an area that deserves attention. In a case where lenders are asked to support a new industry with new hardware and/or operations, considerable effort will be required (e.g., in the form of test programs) to ensure financiers of a favorable return on investment.

    Any successful terrestrial tourism venture is either controlled from end to end by one company, or multiple sources of supply/services are available for cost competitiveness and/or failure (physical or business) recovery. Likewise, space tourism must not be based on a single "thread" unless one entity is financially in control of the entire operation and is legally allowed to operate in that manner (i.e., antitrust issues are addressed). For example, it is ill advised to have an orbital hotel run by company X that can only be reached by company Y's rocket unless X and Y are in a consortium where risk and profit are related.

    3.5.6.5.2 Transportation System Capabilities

    The space transportation system capabilities required for capturing the tourism market are similar to those provided by the airlines (for the near-term market) and by the cruise lines (for the far-term market). Passenger safety and comfort are paramount considerations, with secondary aspects being related to the economic and business aspects. In the near-term market, the transportation system would need to handle the adult joyride crowd, whereas for the far-term market, families with children would need to be accommodated as well as incorporating provisions for on-orbit docking operations.

    As noted in the previous section, the vehicle dynamics associated with planned ascent and descent operations must fit within the boundaries of acceptable g loads for tourists (probably not more than 2 to 3 g's over a 10-minute period). Adjustable seat configurations, tailored to the contours of the individual passengers, will be needed in addition to either having the individual seats or the entire cabin capable of being rotated following passenger embarking to align their+/-X body axis to the vehicle's major force vector (X axis being front-to-back, Y axis being side-to-side, and Z axis being up-and-down).

    Passengers will also want to have direct visual access for viewing the Earth during flight, and to use cameras through these viewports for recording their journey. In addition, passenger viewing screens, coupled via fiber optics to selectable on-board optics, will enable the crew to point out items of interest, communicate instructions, and provide information on the flight's progress. An interactive system would also enable the flight attendants to handle questions and/or problems during periods when the passengers and crew are confined to their stations.

    Passenger safety must be ensured to an even larger degree than is currently achieved by the airlines. Catastrophic events associated with space travel would undergo extreme public scrutiny (as did the Challenger accident), and have a major impact on the industry. Therefore, reliability of the transportation system must be ensured by employing conservative margins of safety in the design and using redundant systems for critical functions, as well as incorporating special features to ensure passenger protection during high-risk periods.

    In addition to having reliable performance from the space vehicle itself, the transportation system as a whole will need to have the capability of meeting predetermined operational schedules for departures as well as arrivals. Tourists will expect to travel on the advertised dates and times that were set when they purchased their tickets. Moreover, as on-orbit travel destination points are utilized, the ability to meet the exact launch windows will become more and more important as people will also be waiting in space for the arrival of their return flight.

    Finally, in looking at the economic viability of developing a transportation system exclusively for the tourist market (ref. Sec. 3.5.6.6), we find that tourism will most likely take the form of being comanifested with other payloads on a "universal" type of vehicle. With this in mind, the transportation segment will need to be modular, expandable, self-contained, adaptable to the vehicle's physical mounting/attachments, and compatible with the on-board utilities (air, power, cooling, etc.). This may well be the driving function that shapes the final configuration more than any other consideration.

    3.5.6.5.3 Ground Handling

    Ground operations at a spaceport are envisioned to be similar to those at a major airline terminal. In order to sustain economic viability of a fleet of space vehicles, it will be necessary to achieve a very short turnaround time capability that is essentially comprised of replenishing the on-board consumables, changeout of any life-limited items, conducting scheduled maintenance tasks, and performing a systems verification test.

    For purposes of comparison, turnaround operations should be in the neighborhood of 72 hours with an inspection time of several hundred hours, as contrasted to the shuttle, which requires months of turnaround operations and nearly one million hours of inspection.

    3.5.6.5.4 User/Space Transportation Interfaces

    Since space travel presents many new and unique situations to the passengers, it is anticipated that pretravel education will be an essential part of the user/space transportation interface. Information would be made available via the "data superhighway," which is expected to link all households together within the next several years.

    Video programs would provide detailed instructions on how to operate onboard life support systems and how to handle contingency situations. Passengers would be certified, similar to requirements for participating in sports such as scuba diving, through interactive video training courses that are tailored to the specific vehicle configurations, passenger accommodations, and the specific travel plan selected.

    Standard passenger clothing would likely be required to meet flight safety requirements as well as to facilitate activities in the 0-g environment. These "space suits" would provide control over material flammability, static buildup, outgassing, particle generation, and so forth, as well as provide features for assisting the travelers in performing on-orbit functions (such as having Velcro fasteners for attaching loose items).

    Baggage would have to conform to a specified shape, volume, and weight limit. Personal items such as toiletries would of necessity be restricted to an approved list of products that are compatible with 0g usage.

    For trips of long duration, certification of passenger health would be necessary to ensure compatibility with the flight environment and to preclude viral and bacterial contamination of the destination facility's air supply. Of equal importance is the fact that access to medical treatment facilities is virtually nonexistent for long periods of time, so the state of passenger health at time of departure becomes a very important consideration.

    Passenger accommodations will need to be configurable to the ergonomics of the individual tourists. For example, seats for children will need to be sized to meet their body profiles, as contrasted to the "one seat for everyone" approach now used in the airline industry.

    3.5.6.5.5 Improvements Over Current

    The current systems providing manned access to space are not suitable for most commercial space applications. In order for space tourism and its related enterprises (hotels/casinos in space, theme parks, etc.) to be economically viable, significant improvements over the existing systems are necessary. These improvements include:
  • a. The operations and maintenance (O&M) costs, including launch costs, must be in the order of tens of dollars per pound to a few hundred dollars, not thousands.
  • b. Predictable (reliable) launch schedule.
  • c. Regular service.
  • d. Safety equal to or greater than commercial airlines.
  • 3.5.6.6 Business Opportunities

    Whether or not space tourism makes good business sense depends upon the financial aspects of developing, building, and operating a transportation system that can capture the potential market and provide a suitable return on the investment. This is a fairly complex question to answer since space tourism is envisioned as including a wide variety of travel scenarios (from short joyrides to long-term stays at orbital destinations), and the revenue resulting from ticket sales (i.e., the price of the tour) is shared between the transportation segment and other profit centers (e.g., on-orbit hotel, theme park). Therefore, in order to properly assess the overall viability of space tourism, a business model was constructed to tie all of the interdependent variables together into one composite picture.

    3.5.6.6.1 Cost Sensitivities

    The following sequence of steps was followed in constructing a comprehensive model for the space tourism business assessment.

    Number of Annual Passengers. Sensitivity of the tourism market was evaluated over a tour price range of $10,000 to $1,000,000. As previously described in Section 3.5.6.3.3, the number of people worldwide who would be financially able to afford a space trip and who would also have the desire to do so is depicted in Figure 3.5.6.6-1. The high and low probability curves bound the data spread encountered during the market evaluation process. The medium probability curve is then derived from the high and low curves, and is set equal to the square root of their products. As these curves show, there is no appreciable market that would sustain a space tourism industry until the tour price falls below $100,000. Keep in mind that the term "tour price" includes everything; it covers the transportation to and from space as well as the cost associated with on-orbit destination activities at a hotel or theme park.

    To determine the market sensitivity to transportation costs, several relationships need to be established: specifically, the composition of the passengers (adults, children, consumables, etc.), the length of their stay in space, the weight of the support systems (habitable module), seat occupancy, desired operating profit, and the revenue split between transportation and other profit centers.



    Figure 3.5.6.6-1. Space Tourist Market

    Mass Characteristics of the Tourist Market. The average mass compositions for adults and children are estimated as shown in
    Figure 3.5.6.6-2. The first line shows the current tourist mix of men, women, and children from an existing tourist database. The average body mass data also comes from this database. The other values shown for consumables, clothing, and ancillary items are purely estimates.

    Figure 3.5.6.6-2. Estimated Mass Characteristics - Space Tourists

    Composition of the Tourist Market Based on Price. In order to properly use the mass data shown in
    Figure 3.5.6.6-2, it was also necessary to look at how the mix of passengers by gender might be affected by price. As shown in Figure 3.5.6.6-3, it is assumed that, at high $/lb prices, only adventure-tourists would be traveling into space. As on-orbit assets become available, which is not expected to occur until much lower rates are established, then families with children would be expected to participate. The curves shown in Figure 3.5.6.6-3 are set to match the percentages for males, females, and children from Figure 3.5.6.6-2 when the tour price equals $10 per pound.

    Figure 3.5.6.6-3. Tourism Mix by Tour Price per Pound

    Trip Duration. Another factor that had to be considered to properly use the mass data is the anticipated length of stay in orbit (to account for the weight of the consumables). At high $/lb prices, the market is predominately adventure-travelers who would only be staying for 1 day or less. As the $/lb price decreases, it is envisioned that travelers would be able to stay at on-orbit destination points, with an average time of 14 days set at the $10/lb point as shown in
    Figure 3.5.6.6-4. (A tour of 14 days was selected based on the feeling that a family could reasonably allocate 2 weeks to a trip of a lifetime and could generally not afford to be away from their business for longer periods.)

    Figure 3.5.6.6-4. Average Length of Stay by Tour Price per Pound

    Allocated Passenger Weight. Using the data shown in
    Figures 3.5.6.6-2 through -4, a graph showing the average weight per ticketed passenger as a function of tour price was constructed (Fig. 3.5.6.6-5, Average Weight per Ticket). As depicted on this graph, the total allocated weight varies from 210 lb to 300 lb. This variable is then used in subsequent calculations for assessing the effects of weight (passengers + consumables + clothing + ancillary items) on the tourism model. An additional weight penalty is considered in subparagraph I to account for the habitable module in which the passengers ride.

    Figure 3.5.6.6-5. Expected Composition of Passenger Weight Versus Tour Price per Pound

    Revenue as a Function of the Tour Price per Pound.
    Figure 3.5.6.6-6 shows the relationship between the average weight per ticketed passenger (from Fig. 3.5.6.6-5) and tourism revenue (from Fig. 3.5.6.6-1). As this figure indicates, for a nominal case (medium probability), annual tourism revenues above $100 million can only be expected when the tour price per pound gets below $400 (around $100,000 per ticket). Note that the medium and high probability curves, in the high price per pound region of the graph, show a dip in revenue as the price decreases. This reflects the situation as shown in Figure 3.5.6.6-1 that, for the high-end tour prices, the number of passengers does not significantly increase as the price drops, and thus the revenue also goes down as price goes down.

    Figure 3.5.6.6-6. Tourism Revenue Versus Tour Price per Pound

    Revenue Split Between Profit Centers. To determine how much revenue would be made available for the transportation system from the overall tour price, a revenue-sharing factor (
    Fig. 3.5.6.6-7) was established. It was assumed that for short trips the entire revenue would go to the transport segment, but as the trip duration increased, revenue would become available for the other profit centers (e.g., space theme park, hotel). The curve was constructed to give a 50-50 split in revenue at the 14-day point, and it asymptotically approaches 0% for much longer trips.

    Figure 3.5.6.6-7. Tourism Revenue Sharing Versus Trip Duration

    Passengers as a Function of Transport Price per Pound. Using the revenue-sharing factor just as described, the number of annual passengers as a function of transport price per pound can be calculated as shown in
    Figure 3.5.6.6-8. This curve reflects the relationships established in Figures 3.5.6.6-1, -4, -5, and -8. This curve establishes the market as a function of the price charged per pound for transportation.

    Figure 3.5.6.6-8. Space Tourists as a Function of Transport Price

    Support System Weight as a Function of Number of Passengers. To establish a price-to-cost relationship for the transport segment, it is necessary to account for the weight penalty associated with the habitable module in which the passengers ride. For purposes of accountability, the weight associated with a self-contained cabin (which includes the module's structure, seats, thermal control, air supply, waste management, food center, lighting system, and other required support items) is shown in
    Figure 3.5.6.6-9. This curve basically changes as a function of the square root of the number of passengers. There is a heavier penalty assessed when the number of passengers is small, because the economies of scale cannot be achieved.

    Figure 3.5.6.6-9. Habitable Module Weight as a Function of Passengers

    Passengers as a Function of Transport Cost. Here we change from a "price" based model to a "cost" based model. In making this change, we have made two assumptions: (1) we assumed an annualized profit factor of 15% for the transportation segment (i.e., PRICE = COST + 15%) and (2) we assumed that each habitable module would be only 85% occupied, similar to an airline. Based on these assumptions, in conjunction with the data from
    Figures 3.5.6.6-8 and -9, the number of annual passengers as a function of transportation cost per pound is shown in Figure 3.5.6.6-10. All of the subsequent charts generated by the tourism model from this point on are in terms of transportation cost per pound.

    Figure 3.5.6.6-10. Space Tourists as a Function of Transport Cost

    Weight to LEO as a Function of Transport Cost. With the use of the average weight per ticket of
    Figure 3.5.6.6-5, converted to transportation cost per pound, in conjunction with the habitable module weight of Figure 3.5.6.6-9 and the number of passengers of Figure 3.5.6.6-10, the overall tourism weight to LEO can be calculated as shown in Figure 3.5.6.6-11. This information is useful in performing vehicle/fleet sizing analyses as well as looking at comanifesting opportunities with other LEO payloads.

    Figure 3.5.6.6-11. Space Tourism Launch Weight to LEO

    Revenue as a Function of Transport Cost. With the use of the information from
    Figures 3.5.6.6-1 and -10, the total tourism market revenue as a function of transport cost per pound is calculated (Figure 3.5.6.6-12). The market revenue shown is for transportation as well as any on-orbit facilities. The next three charts break out the transportation-related portion of this revenue, the associated transportation costs, and the resultant profits.

    Figure 3.5.6.6-12. Tourism Revenue as a Function of Transport Cost

    Transport Revenue, Costs, and Profits. With the relationships established between price and cost (Passengers as a Function of Transport Cost, above) and also revenue sharing (Revenue Split Between Profit Centers, above), the portion of the total tourism revenue applicable to the transportation segment as well as the corresponding costs and resulting profits can be calculated as shown in
    Figures 3.5.6.6-13, -14, and -15. In looking at the curves for transportation profits, especially in the region of low cost per pound, there is an extremely wide range of answers between the low and high probability cases (e.g., at $100/lb, the profit ranges from $450 million down to $1.5 million). This is reflective of the projected annual passengers which, as shown in Figure 3.5.6.6-9 for $100/lb, varies from 100,000 down to 200.

    Figure 3.5.6.6-13. Transport Revenue as a Function of Transport Cost


    Figure 3.5.6.6-14. Transport Cost as a Function of Cost per Pound


    Figure 3.5.6.6-15. Transport Profits as a Function of Transport Cost

    Other Available Revenues. With the use of the revenue sharing of
    Figure 3.5.6.6-7 in conjunction with the total tourism revenue of Figure 3.5.6.6-12, the revenue available to other on-orbit profit centers (e.g., hotel, theme park) can be calculated as shown in Figures 3.5.6.6-16 and -17. This information is provided as an aggregate annual revenue as well as by dollars per individual tourist per day.

    Figure 3.5.6.6-16. Other Profit Center Revenue as a Function of Transport Cost


    Figure 3.5.6.6-17. Per Diem Available for Other Than Transportation

    Launch Rate. With the use of the tourism weight to LEO (
    Figure 3.5.6.6-11) and four launch vehicle capacities (10-, 30-, 55-, and 100-thousand lb), the number of launches per year can be calculated as shown in Figures 3.5.6.6-18 and -19. Figure -18 assumes that 50% of vehicle capacity is dedicated to cargo and the remainder is used for passengers and their support module, whereas figure -19 dedicates the entire capacity to the tourists. These curves reflect an 85% seat occupancy.

    Figure 3.5.6.6-18. Annual Launch Rate for a 50% Comanifested Cargo


    Figure 3.5.6.6-19. Annual Launch Rate for 100% Passengers

    3.5.6.6.2 Programmatics

    Now that the space tourism market has been analyzed from the demand side, and resulting projections made as to launch rates for several vehicle sizes that would be required to meet the demand, what remains to be done is to assess whether or not it would make sense from a business viewpoint to invest money in the development of a new launch system to capture this market. To assist in making this determination, a business model, using a "top down" approach, was constructed, based on the assumptions discussed below.

    R&D Costs. The engineering design and development costs for a new launch vehicle are included. This cost is amoritized over the initial 13 vehicles.

    R&D Period. It is assumed that there is a 5-year development period. The expenditures per year are 10%, 20%,30%, 30%, and 10%.

    Vehicle Fabrication. The manufacturing operations commence during the last year of the R&D activities (allowing for procurement of long-lead materials) and continue for 4 years. Over this 4-year period, it is assumed that 25% of the vehicles are built and delivered by the end of the second year, an additional 25% by the end of the third year, and the remaining 50% by the end of the fourth year. It is also assumed that vehicle fabrication continues after these 4 years to expand the fleet. In addition, a 95% learning curve was employed.

    Vehicle Useful Life. Vehicles will operate reliably for 400 flights (approximately 15 years), at which time they are considered excess and retired from the fleet.

    Operating and Maintenance Costs. The O&M costs include not only the operating and maintenance costs, but the ancillary costs (ticketing, advertising, etc.), as well. O&M costs will start accruing as the vehicles enter service. It is further assumed that O&M costs remain flat over the entire fleet operating period.

    Effects of Inflation. All calculations are done in base year dollars.

    Profits. A 15% profit margin is used.

    With the use of these assumptions, a business model as shown in Figure 3.5.6.6-20 was constructed to interrelate all of the financial aspects. For this analysis, the input variables were set as follows: (1) the R&D costs were set at $5 billion, (2) the cost of building the initial vehicle was set at $500 million and a 95% learning curve was employed, (3) the O&M costs were set at $10 million per flight, (4) the vehicle was sized at 30,000 lb of payload, which was set to equal 100 passengers, (5) the number of flights per vehicle per year was set at 26, (6) the initial fleet size was set at 13 vehicles, with additional vehicles continuing to be built at a rate of 5 per year, giving a fleet size of around 88 vehicles after 25 years, and (7) the amount of revenue allocated to nontransportation items was set at $0.01 million.

    As shown in Figure 3.5.6.6.-21, which depicts the dollar value relationships after 25 years, the real driver turns out to be the O&M costs. Factors such as the $5 billion upfront R&D costs could be off by almost an order of magnitude and still not appreciably affect the results obtained from the model.


    ValueParameterValueParameter
    5,000R&D cost ($M)26Vehicle flights per year per vehicle
    500Production cost ($M)100Passengers/vehicle
    10O&M cost/flight ($M)2,155,400Total required passengers (business)
    15%Fee124,211Total predicted passengers (low)
    400Vehicle life (flights)5Sustaining production
    13Vehicles to amortize R&D30,000Payload (lbs)
    0.01Other tour stuff/passenger ($M)300Average passenger weight
    15Vehicle life 444Steady-state $/lb
    0.95Learning curve (production)

    Figure 3.5.6.6-20. Business Model Parameters


    Figure 3.5.6.6-21. Life Cycle Cost Over 25 Years

    As shown in
    Figure 3.5.6.6-22 it would require, as an example, around 40,000 passengers paying $200,000 per ticket to make this a viable business. However, this demand is far greater than the most optimistic (i.e., low probability) market that could be captured at that ticket price. Similar runs were conducted while incrementally varying the input values to assess their overall influence on the model and to see if there was an optimum point at which a viable business venture could be postulated.

    As shown in Figure 3.5.6.6-23, if we eliminate all R&D costs, decrease first unit production cost to $200 million, reduce the O&M costs per flight down to $1 million, and increase the sustaining production to nine vehicles per year we end up below the low probability market demand curve. The switch back in the business demand curve is caused by incurring vehicle production costs before the vehicle is online and generating revenue.



    Figure 3.5.6.6-22. Annual Passengers Versus Tour Price


    Figure 3.5.6.6-23. Annual Passengers Versus Tour Price -Reduced Costs

    3.5.6.7 Conclusions and Recommendations

    An approach to defining the market for space tourism was developed based on the assumption that some percentage of personal income would form the basis for revenue.

    New technologies and design philosophies can be judiciously applied to a vehicle specifically intended for routine, safe, manned transportation that will result in low operations costs. It appears plausible that appropriately sized vehicle designs can be operated profitably for the revenue available. Regulations that develop in the future could have a significant impact on the system's profitability and need to be addressed from the outset.

    However, it would also appear that there is insufficient revenue in all cases to amortize the full cost of developing and building a space transportation fleet as a capitalistic venture. This impasse leads to several alternative solutions, assuming someone would still wish to develop the space tourism industry.

    One could envision buying an existing launch vehicle (with the idea that the development costs are already sunk) and modifying it as required. The difficulty of rationalizing this approach is depicted in Figure 3.5.6.7-1. The "cost" per flight comes from a variety of public sources (realizing also that different vehicles account fixed infrastructure costs differently against a quoted cost/flight); the exact number is not important. Most of these vehicles were not meant to fly passengers, and the range in number of passengers (called pax) is purely based on engineering judgment, not specific designs.

    While this quick comparison is not quite accurate, it does point out the magnitude of the problem. Even if tourism used the Energia, (with a price likely to change significantly as companies such as NPO Energiamash adjust to a market economy), the best one could hope for was a vehicle cost of about $1 million per passenger.



    Figure 3.5.6.7-1. Comparison of Existing Launch Vehicle Flight Costs for Space Tourism Applications

    Another possible solution involves the role of government, which could choose to develop and build the system at a "loss." History is rife with examples of this approach (the building of the U.S. Interstate Highway System, Airbus, commercial nuclear power plants, etc.). Governments often have military requirements that can be satisfied by vehicles of similar capability; part of the government's rationalization for developing a new system could be related to these military needs.

    If the case can be made that a larger societal goal is achieved by this investment of tax revenue, such as jobs, prestige, technological superiority, "spinoffs," altruistic science, then the tourism industry could be a reality.

    The word "subsidy" is often held in contempt by those promoting capitalistic economics. New, large ventures with enormous potential for payoff (such as space tourism) can be started only with the financial and legal assistance of government. By thoughtfully developing systems that provide short-term societal benefits, such as scientific or military transportation, such a concept should be easily justifiable.

    Finally, it is apparent that there remains much work to be done in the area of market research. Defining the requirements of the paying public cannot be accomplished by systems engineering analysis alone. Experienced market research organizations should become involved to pulse the customers, financiers, and potential operators. Specifically, such surveys should establish:

  • a. Ticket price/number of interested travelers.
  • b. Optimum locale for spaceport operations.
  • c. Type of tourism flight/destination of most interest.
  • d. Tolerable acceleration/vibration environment.
  • e. Level of acceptable risk to personal safety.
  • f. Level of cost/schedule risk acceptable to financiers.
  • g. Profitability/ROI requirements of operators.
  • 3.5.7 Ultra High Speed Civil Transport

    3.5.7.1 Introduction/Statement of Problem

    Vision statement: Ms. Jones has a problem: her job as marketing executive vice president of TransWorldCo requires her to be in the New York office Monday afternoon, Bangkok Tuesday, and Buenos Aires Wednesday morning, and she's holding tickets for that premier back in New York Wednesday night. Twenty years ago, she couldn't have pulled it off with those day-long, grueling 747 flights. Today, traveling many times the speed of sound, the trip is possible . . .

    Commercial air travel for the business person and the tourist has had a profound impact on our world. As the speed of the aircraft has increased from the DC-3 era to the jet age to the advent of the Concorde Supersonic Transport (SST), the convenience of traveling has improved remarkably. Currently, the U.S. government and major commercial airframe and propulsion companies are investigating a high-speed civil transport (HSCT). Operating at two or three times the speed of sound, the HSCT is the next logical step in terrestrial transport.

    It is proposed here that perhaps a derivative or element of a commercial space transportation system could be used to codevelop an ultrahigh-speed civil transport (UHSCT). The system would operate at some to-be-determined very high mach number and provide the time-constrained traveler with an even shorter method of travel.

    3.5.7.2 Study Approach

    It was decided that the UHSCT concept should be viewed as an evolutionary step in conventional transportation. This means that diverse passengers would approach the system and physically ride it as one of several choices to reach a destination. Therefore, special training, physical aptitude, or protective clothing is deemed inconsistent with the UHSCT concept. Those select persons for whom these are not factors, could be considered part of the fast package delivery market segment.

    In the initial HSCT contracts in the mid 1980s, Boeing and McDonnell Douglas were asked to explore concepts covering the speed range from mach 2 to 25. As this spectrum covers a UHSCT, these early studies were reexamined to see if anything has changed in the last ~7 years.

    3.5.7.3 Market Description

    3.5.7.3.1 Description Market Evaluation

    Air travel has become an indispensable part of world commerce and tourism. There are some markets for which the limiting factor to growth is the long transit time for people. For example, for North Americans or Europeans to vacation in Australia, individuals must be prepared to spend upwards of a day in the confines of a subsonic airliner. If the trip time was markedly less, more tourists would go to Australia.

    The limited duration and resources of the CSTS could not hope to perform a fraction of the analysis performed by the HSCT program. It is encouraging to note that effort continues to grow for suggesting that the developers and operators of such a system see a path to commercial success for supersonic transport.

    3.5.7.3.2 Market Evaluation

    The concept of a UHSCT hinges on the premise that there are many individuals willing to place a premium on speed and that a UHSCT could appreciably reduce the trip time between desirable transit locales. Other considerations, such as noise, and environmental impact are secondary.

    The time value of human transit is continually being evaluated by many transportation specialists. In general, history tells us that ever greater transportation speed has a tangible benefit at an acceptable cost. Witness the success of the superhighway, Bullet trains, and commercial jet transport. Yet there are limits to what the masses will pay for: the Concorde supersonic transport is an example of a marginal product. The HSCT program is proceeding cautiously in developing a system to operate at mach 2.3 to 2.7.

    It turns out that the physics of a UHSCT may kill the concept before one has to answer the question of time value for human travel. Fundamentally, the planet Earth is not large enough to exploit the advantages of an UHSCT.

    The maximum range for a UHSCT would be an antipodal flight of around 12,000 nmi. In reality, since the majority of the world's population lives in the Northern Hemisphere, the typical long-range city pair routes are in the 3,000 to 7,000-nmi spectrum. Figure 3.5.7.3-1 illustrates, for a 5,000-nmi route the effect that increasing the vehicle's maximum speed (cruise mach number) has on the time of flight. Several interesting features are immediately apparent.

    First, it is obvious that an SST or HSCT operating in the mach 2 to 3 range significantly reduces the trip time when compared to a conventional mach 0.8 transport. Second, the time advantage of going faster is much less: to save a hour of trip time off that offered by an HSCT, the cruise mach would need to increase several times. The carefully considered design points for HSCTs reflect the increased technology (read: cost and risk) required to increase this maximum cruise capability.

    Next, note the effect associated with varying the maximum acceleration/deceleration rate. These numbers may seem small compared to rocket flight, but remember we are dealing with untrained, unconditioned, relatively unrestrained passengers. An acceleration rate of about 0.25g is about what one experiences during moderate to hard braking on a commercial airplane. Imagine the discomfort in sustaining that g level for minutes during takeoff and climb, followed by a brief cruise, and then an equally long period of deceleration during descent.

    Finally, note that by limiting this acceleration, the vehicle never comes close to reaching orbital-like (~mach 25) velocities. For example, a 0.1g-limited trajectory gets to about mach 9.5 before the deceleration and descent phase begins.



    Figure 3.5.7.3-1. UHSCT Flight Time (5,000-nmi route) Versus Cruise Mach Number for Acceleration-Constrained Flights

    In the next
    Figure, 3.5.7.3-2, one can see the same trending for several route ranges. Again the time value of increasing cruise speed beyond a certain point is probably insignificant compared to the technology and complexity issues associated with a higher cruise mach number.

    Figure 3.5.7.3-2. Effect of Route Length on Flight Time Versus Cruise Mach Number for Acceleration- Constrained Flights


    Figure 3.5.7.3-3. Maximum Mach Number Versus Range for Acceleration-Constrained Flights

    3.5.7.3.3 Market Assessment

    No further market assessment was performed based on the conclusions of the
    previous section.

    3.5.7.3.4 Market Infrastructure

    It is expected that an UHSCT would operate within the general infrastructure of the world commercial airline system. No attempt was made within the CST study to refine this definition as regards an UHSCT.

    References

  • 1. "Practical Applications of Hypersonic Flight … Possibilities for Air Express," Frederick W. Smith, CEO, Federal Express Corporation, presented to "The First High Speed Commercial Flight Symposium," Center for High Speed Commercial Flight, Battelle Columbus Division, Columbus, Ohio, October 23, 1986.

  • 2. EPRI JOURNAL, July/August 1990, p. 5.

  • 3. "Analysis of Space Systems Study for the Space Disposal of Nuclear Waste," contract NAS8-33847, NASA CR 161991, 1981.

  • 4. Personal communication, Roger Lenard, Sandia National Laboratory, October 1993.

  • 5. K. Ehricke, "Space Tourism." AAS 23, pp. 259-291, 1967.

  • 6. B. Hilton, "Hotels in Space". AAS 23, pp. 251-257, 1967.

  • 7. W. M. Brown, "Space Ventures and Society; Long Term Perspectives." NASW-3724, Hudson Institute, 1985.

  • 8. Society Expeditions, "Space Tourism Could Drive Space Development." Proceedings of the Space Development Conference, 1985.

  • 9. Space Expeditions, Project Space Voyage. Society Expeditions, Seattle, 1987.

  • 10. D. M. Ashford and P. Q. Collins, "Orbital and Sub-orbital Passenger Transport: the Key to the Commercialization of Space." IAF-87-632, 1987.

  • 11. P. Q. Collins and D. M. Ashford, "Potential Economic Implications of the Development of Space Tourism." Acta Astronautica 17, No. 4, pp. 421-431, 1988.

  • 12. P. Q. Collins, "Stages in the development of low earth orbit tourism." Space Technology 9, No. 3, pp. 315-323, 1988.

  • 13. S. Matsumoto, Y. Amino, T. Mitsuhashi, K. Takagi, and H. Kanayama, "Feasibility of Space Tourism Cost Study for Space Tour." IAF-89, 1989.

  • 14. S. Abitzsch and F. Eilingsfeld, "The Prospects for Space Tourism: Investigation on the Economic and Technological Feasibility of Commercial Passenger Transportation into Low Earth Orbit." IAA-92-0155, 1992.


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    3.5 Transportation
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