Slide 3 of 100
In June 1962, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center awarded an 18-month contract worth $428,000 to Lockheed for studying a ”Reusable Ten-Ton Orbital Carrier Vehicle.” The goal was to develop a ten-passenger HTHL TSTO spaceplane that ”should be compatible with the philosophy used in the development of supersonic commercial jet aircraft and should offer a potential commercial application in the late 1970s, such as operating the vehicle over global
distances for surface-to-surface transport of cargo and personnel.”
Lockheed's initial HTHL TSTO spaceplane concept from 1963 was an outgrowth of an earlier USAF
study with Hughes. The fully reusable orbiter (pictured here) would have been carried by a
sled-launched booster rocket rocketplane.
The Reusable Orbital Carrier (ROC) was a 1964 Lockheed study of a sled-launched HTHL TSTO.
The booster's rocket engines would burn liquid oxygen and jet fuel while small turbojets would
be used for landing approach. The 2nd stage orbiter rocketplane would make an unpowered glide
return and landing. LOX, LH2 rocket propulsion would be used on the second stage. The gross
liftoff weight would be about 453t and the vehicle could deliver ten passengers+3000kg to a
space station. Alternatively, an unmanned 11,340kg payload could be carried. The expected
development cost was $3 billion at 1964 rates ($16 billion at 1999 rates) and the cost per flight was
$100/lb, or $1,184/kg at 1999 rates. NASA saw the small 10-passenger ROC as
a vehicle to prove out in small scale a larger 100-passenger "Reusable Aero-Space Transport"
for the 1980s. RAST would use high-pressure oxygen+hydrogen engines and turbojets for landing
on both stages. The booster rocketplane would be a multipurpose vehicle, with the 2nd stage
being tailored to fit specific applications such as global passenger transportation, NASA
space station resupply or military missions. The designers felt ballistic "recoverable"
vertically launched vehicles make more sense for launching heavy unmanned one-way payloads,
since the recovery system (chutes or retrorockets) will cost less. On the other hand, winged
vehicles and lifting recovery will be safer for returning manned crews. The marginal cost per
flight and the turnaround time will also be less, if the flight rates are high enough.
”Space Shuttle” -- Dennis R. Jenkins, 1981, ISBN: 0963397451
”Reusable Launch Vehicles” -- Osmun, Space/Aeronautics 1964/September/p.43
”The Space Shuttle Decision” -- T.A. Heppenheimer, NASA History Office, NASA SP-4221, 1999
”Space Transporter Study” -- SPACEFLIGHT 1965/p.124