What do you think of a Reusable launch vehicle (RLV)? It is a system that is capable of launching a launch vehicle to space more than once. It is different from expendable launch systems, wherein each launch vehicle is only launched only once and then discarded. Currently no true reusable launch vehicle is in use. The closest one that can be compared is the space shuttle.

The development of a reusable launch vehicle opens the possibility of lowering the cost of each mission. A reusable launch vehicle program has two objectives. First is to demonstrate technologies leading to a new generation of space boosters that are capable of delivering payloads at significantly lower cost; and to provide a technology base for development of advanced commercial launch systems that will make U.S. aerospace manufacturers more competitive in the global market.

There are numerous technical challenges in designing a reusable launch vehicle or RLV that will fly to orbit and return to Earth. There have been a number of research projects and the most notable are the X-33, X-34, X-37 and X-38. They were initiated to test RLV technologies to lessen the risk when developing the next generation of RLV. However, up until now an RLV vehicle that is in continuous rotation hasn’t been made. If they do manage to develop one, it would environmentally and financially beneficial. After all, they can simply use the vehicle over and over for expeditions and retire it when the time comes.

Reusable Launch Vehicle