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THE  COMMERCIAL OPPORTUNITY

THE  COMMERCIAL OPPORTUNITY

  1. In the late 1940s, when an urgent need arose for a near-space rocket that could deliver an atomic bomb, there was only one successful example to copy – the Nazis’ V2. 
  2. This vehicle hauled all its own oxygen up with it, requiring about two tons for every ton of fuel burnt
  3. The existential urgency, coupled with the technical success of the V2, meant that no practical alternatives to this system were considered. The designer of the V2, Werner von Braun, was recruited to oversee what evolved into America’s space launch programme.
  4. This has been enormously successful, with ever-larger rockets sending scores of satellites into earth orbit. By now over 54,000 satellites are under observation by the United States Space Command, and in addition it is intermittently tracking about 20,000 other objects – space debris – with less predictable orbits.
  5. However, no system exists for the repair, maintenance and orbit adjustment of this vast and growing satellite population.
  6. As a result, for the last seventy years the most expensive, inefficient and wasteful transportation system on the planet has been the one used to get away from it. A rocket payload typically costs over $3,000 a kilogram to place in orbit and if things go wrong, there is no way that it can be economically recovered.

The Swala Orbital Service Vehicle concept was developed to meet this opportunity. A small, reusable, single-stage-to-orbit spaceplane that uses the oxygen in the air it traverses. This single feature enables it to succeed where all other spaceplanes – perhaps 70 attempts since 1945 – have failed.

Most importantly of all, we now have a way to access and de-orbit space debris.