Reusable Successor To EELV Moving Ahead

Guy Norris/Colorado Springs .

A truly reusable, quick-response launch system has been an elusive dream of the U.S. Air Force since the dawn of the space age, but now the service is taking the first steps toward a real capability as plans for a reusable booster system (RBS) come together. Dubbed Pathfinder, the demonstrator is a subscale vehicle aimed at proving the concept of a vertical-launch-and-horizontal-landing first stage. Researchers hope to show that by returning to an aircraft-like landing and being fully reusable, the system could cost up to 50% less to launch than the Air Force's current Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) family ...

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