TSTO is Serious Competition
A totally reusable Two Stage To Orbit (TSTO) vehicle is another
reasonable way to get to orbit cheaply. If you can just add fuel
and fly again it would be very cheap to operate. Fuel costs are
a very small part of the current costs of getting to orbit.
A couple companies working towards this are
They may be able to do it.
Advantages of TSTO over SSTT
- Does not need to use existing expensive rockets to put a tether into space.
- Does not need to work out a method for tether rendezvous, which has not
been done before.
- Might have a lower development cost, in part because of #1 and #2 above.
- Military would rather not have a tether during a war as it is may be too easy
to destroy, though to get stuff up ahead of time would be ok.
Disadvantages of TSTO compared to SSTT
- Has to do full-orbital-speed reentry. Harder to do this and be reusable.
- Operating costs are probably higher as the rockets are bigger and take more fuel
for the same amount of payload.
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