USAF Plans For Reusable Booster Development

Aviation Week:

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”?


  1. “re-usable” is just a term used to sell the thing to congress.

    What they want is the ability to safely de-orbit a given payload. One that is in orbit already.

    Which is what the top secret Shuttle missions the NRO paid for were about.

  2. And goes another. 5-10 billion down the rat hole. The trick is the first 80k feet, once you are beyond that the rest is easy. The reusable booster senario has never really produced the “cost savings” claimed. That said the piggy-back concept has worked in several different forms. (x-15 being the most famous) in any event the air fierce would be better off taking over the NASA Areas rocket since most of the R&d has been spent.

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