Reducing Space Launch Cost


This seminar is the only all-inclusive source of information on the methods for understanding, managing and designing cost-driven launch vehicle systems. The instruction provides a practical introduction to economy-driven space transportation. Emphasis is on using cost models and tools to determine optimum economic space mission solutions. The course gives balanced coverage on the economic, technical and political motivation behind current and future space transportation initatives. Insight into how alternative infrastructures have evolved under different conditions is illustrated by comparing Western with former Soviet strategies and methods. Rival concepts for more economical launch vehicle systems are carefully examined for the reality of their claims. Streamlined methodlogies and strategies are discussed. The impacts of safety, reliability and dependability on mission economy are examined. graphical display of results. The applications will be tailored to the interests of the attendees.

Course Outline:

  1. The Problems and How We Got Here. What if anything is wrong with the current system? What is the interaction of reliability, availability, and safety on mission economy.
  2. What Has Been Done To Solve the Problem and can the Problem be Solved? Many options such as ALS, NLS, Spacelifter, and NASP have been explored, but none have borne fruit. How can we avoid making costly mistakes in the future? Russian methods will be examined.
  3. Why Are Costs So High? What is it about space transportation operations that make them so expensive? The concept of learning curve, order quantity, economics of scale and special handling will be addressed.
  4. Cost Model Analysis. The uses and abuses of cost models. The TRANSCOST model will be examined for lessons in economic development and fabrication.
  5. Using Tools to Determine the Outcome. Strategies, based on Cost Models, for minimum cost design will continue. Strategies to minimize the life cycle costs will be examined.
  6. Existing Launch Vehicles and Next-Generation Alternatives.The technology and economically of the existing fleet of domestic and foreign launch vehicles will be discussed. The economic basis for the next-generation space transportation vehicles will be examined.
  7. Expendable and Reusable Launch Vehicle Economics. Key economic and technical drivers of expendable and reusable launch vehicles are identified. Strategies for economic implementation are examined.
  8. The Significance of Performance. What is the significance of engine performance, propellant density and number of stages?
  9. The Role of Single Stage to Orbit. What technology is needed for an SSTO? What do cost models say about SSTO concepts. Are they practical, economical and technically?
  10. Launch Site Operational Economics. What economics are available to make launch operations less expensive.
  11. Safety and Reliability Issues. Can launch vehicles be made safer, more reliable and be more economic at the same time?
  12. The Space Transportation Market. How does the cost of space transportation affect overall space mission technology, operations and economics? Evidence of inelastic demand will be provided.
  13. The Effects of the Procurement System. The implications of government procurement in an inelastic market are examined. The rewards and punishment stimulus will be explored.
  14. Private Investment, Privatization, and Low-Cost Space Transportation. The issue of space transportation investment will be covered. How will business be done differently if private space transportation is to succeed?


REGISTRATION:  There is no obligation or payment required to enter the Registration for an actively scheduled course.   We understand that you may need approvals but please register as early as possible or contact us so we know of your interest in this course offering.

SCHEDULING:  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.   To express your interest in an open enrollment course not on our current schedule, please email us at

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 integration of launch vehicle technology, design, modeling and business strategies. He is an independent consultant, writer and teacher of rocket system technology. He is experienced in launch vehicle operations, design, testing, business analysis, risk reduction, modeling, safety and reliability. Mr. Keith’s experience extends to both reusable and expendable launch vehicles, as well as to both solid and liquid rocket systems. Mr. Keith has designed complete rocket engines, rocket vehicles, small propulsion systems, and composite propellant tank systems, especially designed for low cost, as a propulsion and launch vehicle engineer. His travels have taken him to Russia, China, Australia and other launch operations centers throughout the world. Mr. Keith has worked the Space Launch Initiative and the Liquid Fly-Back Booster programs for Boeing, originated the Scorpius Program for Microcosm, worked on the Brilliant Eyes and the Advanced Solid Rocket Motor Programs for Rockwell and worked on the Aerojet Launch Detection Satellite program. He also has 13-years of government experience including five years working launch operations at Vandenberg AFB. Mr. Keith has written 18 technical papers on various aspects of low cost space transportation over the last decade.

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