Apollo Discussions > The Reality of Apollo

It really is rocket science

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--- Quote from: Bob B. on March 31, 2012, 03:10:40 PM ---Staged combustion engines definitely provide better performance than gas generator engines, but they're also more complex and expensive to manufacture.  When the engine gets thrown away after a few minutes of work, the cost has to be factored in.
--- End quote ---
I've been thinking -- instead of trying to make a vehicle like the shuttle that is completely reusable, why not make one where you retrieve and return only the expensive components like the high-performance upper stage engines, assuming you use cheap solids in the lower stages?

Somehow they would have to detach from the upper stage once in orbit, deorbit, protect themselves with a heat shield on the way down, and then land on parachutes.

I have no idea if this idea is remotely feasible, but it would be a compromise between fully expendable and fully reusable launchers, neither if which are getting any cheaper.


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