Plans to begin technology development for a reusable booster system to replace its existing expendable launch vehicles beyond 2025 are being finalized by the U.S. Air Force.
With the Air Force facing escalating costs on the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program, the new system offers the promise of cutting launch costs more than 50% by combining a reusable first stage with expendable upper stages. The booster would take off vertically and return to a runway landing at the launch site.
This sort of thing has been discussed to death dozens of times, hasn’t it? Doesn’t every discussion end along the lines of “adding all that crap to the booster means that only the crap can be boosted and there’s no room for payload”?