Launch Vehicle Design, Selection, Performance, & Use

Course Length:



This course provides the practical knowledge to understand the design, performance, selection and use of current and future (within 5 years) launch systems. The seminar benefits space mission users and developers of current and future launch vehicles. The seminar is designed for designers, operators, users, and investors of launch vehicle services of today’s systems, and those of the foreseeable future. The launch vehicles of today include the American Athena, Atlas, Delta, Pegasus, Taurus, Titan, and Space Shuttle. Foreign launch vehicles and launch sites will be discussed for comparison in terms of performance, availability, reliability and cost. Future launch vehicles, both expendable and reusable, will be examined for performance, reliability and the reality of the technology on which they depend. You will learn the details of all major launch systems and how they stack up for various missions.

The seminar is taught from a multi-discipline point-of- view. What do you need to either design and develop, or select, the proper launch vehicle, given reliability, availability and cost trades? How does modern technology affect the design and use of launch vehicles? How do government controls and incentives affect the design, operation, cost, availability, safety and reliability of launch vehicles? What is the path of the future with respect to space transportation in this new century? Attendees will receive a set of printed notes. These notes will be an excellent future reference after the seminar.

What you will learn:

  • Characteristics of current and proposed vehicles.
  • Tradeoffs in performance and cost.
  • Trends and technology of modern launch vehicles.
  • Evaluation of launch vehicle design and performance.
  • Understanding of why launch vehicle services are such high-cost items.

Course Outline:

  1. What Comprises A Launch System. Mission planning, operational launch sites, range operations, launch vehicle integration and payload integration.
  2. Launch Systems Available Today. Expendable domestic and foreign launch systems, price estimations, payload capability and volume, orbital element capabilities, risk factors and availability. The Space Shuttle as the only operational example of a reusable launch vehicle.
  3. Launch Vehicle Systems of the Future. Alternative launch systems, that are currently under development, what they promise, and how they promise to provide a better mission. Will they work out?
  4. Evaluating Alternative Launch System Concepts. How to evaluate alternative launch vehicles for your mission. How to evaluate future launch vehicle concepts from the business and technical perspective. Evaluating the differences between expendable and reusable launch vehicles, and other alternatives.
  5. Understanding Solid, Liquid and Hybrid Launch Vehicles. Examination of the technical, performance and cost issues where different rocket propulsion alternatives are integrated into a vehicle. When are solid rockets the best vehicle choice? When are storable liquid rockets the best vehicle choice? When are cryogenic liquid rockets the best vehicle choice? When are hybrid rockets the best vehicle choice?
  6. High Technology & Launch Vehicles. How have technologies, high-performance materials and solid state electronics been integrated into launch vehicles? What technology is being used to design and develop new launch vehicle systems? What is the future direction of technology in launch vehicles?
  7. Launch Vehicle Systems & Environments. Understanding the extreme heat and cold environments which launch vehicles must survive. Understanding the impact of vibration, shock, acceleration, dynamic pressure and other environments on both the launch vehicle and payload.
  8. Mission Safety, Reliability and Risk Considerations. What are the drivers for higher standards of safety and reliability? What reliability risks exist with vehicles having limited track records? How can launch vehicles be safer for people, property and environment along the flight path? Are there strategies to mitigate risk?
  9. Strategic Thinking and the Future of Launch Vehicles. What strategies lead to successful launch vehicles? How do you separate fact from the smoke-and-mirrors? What strategies apply to expendable launch vehicles? What strategies apply to reusable launch vehicles?
  10. Why are there Problems with Today’s Launch Vehicles? Many launch vehicles flying today have their roots in the dawn of the space age. Why has the operation of delivering payloads to space remained both unreliable and costly?


If this course is not on the current schedule of open enrollment courses and you are interested in attending this or another course as an open enrollment, please contact us at (410)956-8805 or Please indicate the course name, number of students who wish to participate. and a preferred time frame. ATI typically schedules open enrollment courses with a 3-5 month lead time. For on-site pricing, you can use the request an on-site quote form, call us at (410)956-8805, or email us at


  • Edward L. Keith is a multi-discipline Launch Vehicle System Engineer, specializing in the combination of launch vehicle technology with economics of business case analysis. His travels have taken him to Russia, China, Australia and many other launch operation centers around the world. He is currently working on advanced launch vehicles for Boeing Corp. Mr. Keith has served 5 years on launch operations at Vandenberg AFB, CA. He also served 5 years in Australia, evaluating all space mission operations that originated in the Eastern Hemisphere.

    Mr. Keith demonstrated all the key technology for a small company to develop expendable launch vehicles at more than 10-fold lower recurring and development costs. Mr. Keith has worked on launch vehicle technology projects from large liquid cryogenic rocket systems, to solid rocket motors and small storable propellant propulsion systems. Mr. Keith also conducts business case analyses of space and launch vehicle systems, using commercial criteria for closed business solutions.

  • Daniel J. Moser, Founder, President and Chief Technical Officer of an engineering consultant firm has a B.S. in Physics, and M.E. in Mechanical Engineering, University of Utah. Mr. Moser has been an engineer, innovator, and entrepreneur in the aerospace industry for over 35 years. Previously employed by Beal Aerospace Technologies (Director of Engineering), Raytheon-Electronic Systems (Chief Composites Engineer), ALCOA-FiberTek (Project Engineer), and EDO-Fiber Science (Project/Test Engineer), he has also founded and operated two composites-based businesses: Utah Rocketry (1993-1997), and Compositex, Inc. (2000-present). He has extensive experience in designing and developing launch vehicles, liquid rocket propulsion systems, ablatively-cooled thrust chambers/nozzles, filament-wound composite vessels (liquid propellant tanks, high-pressure gas storage vessels, solid rocket motorcases, and crash-worthy external aircraft fuel tanks), wings, control surfaces, fuselages, radomes, spars, missile tail fins, bulkheads, reentry heat shields, and landing gear. Compositex, Inc. customers include NASA-Marshall, NASA-Ames, NASA-Johnson, Air Force Research Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University-Applied Physics Laboratory, Air Launch LLC, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, KT Engineering, Rocketdyne, DARPA, Exxon-Mobil, Northrop Grumman, and Lockheed Martin.

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