When I teach space systems engineering, early in the class, I always ask: Has any launch from America's spaceports ever launched on time? If one were to say that the launch team scheduled a launch 4 months prior for 2 O'clock on Tuesday the xth day of month y, the answer is not only NO, but a resounding NO. This is not bad as the principal purpose of a launch is SAFE delivery to orbit. The American process is to Launch when Ready, not on-time. Other countries have other launch practices, but America's approach is Launch when Ready. Multiple launches have been delayed over six months - until ready. This lesson is one learned from years of difficulty. Expensive satellite launches demand successful delivery to orbit.
When you go to a train station, what are your expectations? Of course, on-time is the watchword for train schedules. Most of the time, airlines make departures close to their expected times. Bus schedules are almost always on time. So why is access to space any different. It is just a delivery system to a user location.
One of the underappreciated aspects of projected space elevator operations is the capability to launch on time. The current concept of the Initial Operational Capability in the time frame of 2038 is one launch at dawn each day. As this is just an elevator trip to space, launch on time is the watchword for this type of access. One launch per day per space elevator each day. This would be routine access to space as well as low cost. These two traits tied with the concept of 14 metric tons of payload for each space elevator each day will change our understanding of space access. This transportation infrastructure will change the world and open up our solar system for humanity.
Dr. Peter Swan, President - ISEC
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