Last week I sent off a submission to the Augustine Human Spaceflight Review Commission, proposing a prize fund to encourage entrepreneurial development of single stage vehicles that could finally let the beleaguered taxpayer actually get to space. The proposal was a follow-up to a paper presented at the 2003 International Space Development Conference in San Jose, CA by myself, Randall Clague and Adrian Tymes.
That paper, though it influenced the creation and operation of the NASA Centennial Challenges, had become outdated and inadequate in the light of an additional 6 years of efforts by the NewSpace community.
The submitted paper is available on the Papers website here at E.R.P.S. The direct link to the new paper is:
Drawing from lessons learned earlier this century and in the previous decade, the paper proposes several incremental stages to getting SSTO vehicles. Scaled prize money would be awarded for demonstrating that your vehicle meets the requirements of each successive stage. Various options are explored to promote competition. Initially proposed in decreasing amount for 2nd and 3rd prizes of each stage as incentives to get the job done. Alternate funding schemes of 4 and even 5 equal amounts per stage are looked at, based on the concept that the required performance has a specific value and the first 4 or 5 teams to demonstrate it get the same amount of money.
Options and Advantages of using SSTO vehicles vs. disposable ones are outlined as well.