Analysis of Launcher Options
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Launcher Option 5: International Space Station and Ariane/Proton

Using a launcher other than the shuttle brings in the requirement of an orbital staging base, such as the International Space Station (ISS). However, the ISS will be in a high-inclination orbit, which costs about 10,000 lbs per shuttle-sized launch. Although there will be a large infrastructure in place there, it may not be economical to launch to a high-inclination orbit for every mission.

The Ariane 5 has a payload of about 32,000 lbs (14,500 kg) to the ISS orbit. This means four Ariane 5 launches will be required for a total mass of 128,000 lbs (58,000 kg) in the ISS orbit. This is a marginally adequate payload, but the integration problems associated with four launch packages might be compensated for by use of the ISS.

This option will involve a larger amount of time spent in space for the assembly of four launch packages. Boil-off of cryogenic fuels while the vehicle is parked at the International Space Station might be a problem; this has not yet been analyzed. To compensate, an Ariane 5 may have to be replaced by one or more Protons, each costing $60 M with a payload of 53,000 lbs (24,000 kg), launched directly into the ISS's orbit. One launch, probably two, of an STS-sized payload shroud will be required, so only two Protons can be used.

In this scenario, we can send the crew up on a pair of Soyuz capsules, launching from the Soyuz launch sites into the International Space Station's high-inclination orbit. See section for more about the Soyuz rockets. This has the added benefit of allowing the crew to return to Earth when convenient for the entertainment value of the mission, rather than wait for the next shuttle mission, if that is even an option. Two Soyuz capsules adds another $50 M to the cost.

Launcher Payload Cost
4 Ariane 5's 128,000 lbs (58,000 kg) $420 M
1 Ariane 5 + 2 Protons 138,000 lbs (62,500 kg) $225 M
2 Ariane 5's + 2 Protons 170,000 lbs (77,000 kg) $330 M
4 Ariane 5's + 2 Soyuz 128,000 lbs (58,000 kg) $470 M
1 Ariane 5 + 2 Protons + 2 Soyuz 138,000 lbs (62,500 kg) $275 M
2 Ariane 5's + 2 Protons + 2 Soyuz 170,000 lbs (77,000 kg) $380 M

The large number of launches required to place the ship and extra fuel into the ISS orbit presents a logistical problem, and the large payload penalty is a definite issue, so this scenario requires considerably more study.

Option 1: Shuttle Option 2: Titan Option 3: Ariane Option 4: Proton Launcher Summary Option 6: LEO Node

Analysis of Launcher Options

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