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
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.
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