A Delta IV Heavy rocket (left) and a Proton-M rocket (right)

An expendable launch system (or expendable launch vehicle/ELV) is a launch vehicle that can be launched only once, after which its components are either destroyed during reentry or discarded in space. ELVs typically consist of several rocket stages that are discarded sequentially as their fuel is exhausted and the vehicle gains altitude and speed. As of 2022, most satellites and human spacecraft are currently launched on ELVs. ELVs are simpler in design than reusable launch systems and therefore may have a lower production cost. Furthermore, an ELV can use its entire fuel supply to accelerate its payload, offering greater payloads. ELVs are proven technology in widespread use for many decades.[1]

Current operators

Arianespace

Arianespace SA is a French company founded in 1980 as the world's first commercial launch service provider.[2] It undertakes the operation and marketing of the Ariane programme.[3] The company offers a number of different launch vehicles: the heavy-lift Ariane 6 for dual launches to geostationary transfer orbit, and the solid-fueled Vega series for lighter payloads.[4]

As of May 2021, Arianespace had launched more than 850 satellites[5] in 287 launches over 41 years. The first commercial flight managed by the new entity was Spacenet F1 launched on 23 May 1984. Arianespace uses the Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana as its main launch site. It has its headquarters in Évry-Courcouronnes, Essonne, France.[6][7]

China

Active/Under Research[edit]

  • Air-Launched SLV able to place a 50 kilogram plus payload to 500 km SSO[8]
  • Ceres-1 small-lift solid-fueled launch vehicle from private firm (relatively high launch cadence)
  • Gravity-1 medium-lift sea-launched solid fuel launch vehicle under development
  • Hyperbola-1 small-lift solid-fueled launch vehicle from private firm
  • Hyperbola-3 medium-lift liquid-fueled (methalox) launch vehicle with reusable first stage (VTVL) from private firm currently under development
  • Jielong 3 small to medium-lift solid fueled launch vehicle currently in service
  • Kaituozhe-1A (开拓者一号甲)
  • Kuaizhou quick-reaction small-lift solid fuel launch vehicle
  • Lijian-1 small to medium-lift solid fuel launch vehicle currently in service (by the commercial spin-off of the Chinese Academy of Sciences)
  • Lijian-2 medium-lift launch vehicle utilizing liquid fuel (kerolox) with reusable first stage under development
  • CZ-2E(A) Intended for launch of Chinese space station modules. Payload capacity up to 14 tons in LEO and 9000 (kN) liftoff thrust developed by 12 rocket engines, with enlarged fairing of 5.20 m in diameter and length of 12.39 m to accommodate large spacecraft[9]
  • CZ-2F/G Modified CZ-2F without escape tower, specially used for launching robotic missions such as Shenzhou cargo and space laboratory module with payload capacity up to 11.2 tons in LEO[10]
  • CZ-3B(A) More powerful Long March rockets using larger-size liquid propellant strap-on motors, with payload capacity up to 13 tons in LEO
  • CZ-3C Launch vehicle combining CZ-3B core with two boosters from CZ-2E
  • Long March 4C
  • CZ-5 heavy-lift hydrolox launch vehicle (with kerolox boosters)
  • CZ-5B variant of the CZ-5 for low Earth orbit payloads (up to 25 tonnes to LEO)
  • CZ-6 or Small Launch Vehicle; small-lift kerolox LV with short launch preparation period, low cost and high reliability, to meet the launch need of small satellites up to 500 kg to 700 km SSO, first flight for 2010; with Fan Ruixiang (范瑞祥) as Chief designer of the project[11][12][13]
  • CZ-7 medium-lift kerolox launch vehicle for launching resupply missions to the Tiangong space station
  • CZ-8 medium-lift launch vehicle mainly for launching payloads to SSO orbits
  • CZ-9 super heavy-lift launch vehicle with a LEO lift capability of 150 tonnes currently under development (planned to be fully reusable in time)
  • CZ-10 crew-rated super-heavy launch vehicle for crewed lunar missions under development
  • CZ-10A crew-rated medium-lift launch vehicle for launching the next-generation crewed spacecraft to LEOs with reusable first stage currently under development
  • CZ-11 small-lift solid fuel quick-response launch vehicle
  • Pallas-1 reusable (1st stage) medium-lift liquid fuel (kerolox) launch vehicle by private firm currently under development
  • Project 921-3 Reusable launch vehicle current project of the reusable shuttle system.
  • Tengyun another current project of two wing-staged reusable shuttle system
  • Reusable spaceplane reusable vertically-launched spaceplane with wings that lands on a runway and currently in service (speculated to be similar to the US X-37B in form and function)
  • Tianlong 2 medium-lift kerolox launch vehicle from private firm (in service)
  • Tianlong 3 medium to heavy-lift kerolox launch vehicle with reusable first stage from private firm currently under development
  • Zhuque-2 medium-lift liquid fuel (methalox) launch vehicle by private firm currently in service (first methane fueled rocket in the world to reach space and to reach orbit with payload)
  • Zhuque-3 medium to heavy-lift methalox launch vehicle by private firm with reusable first stage currently under development

Cancelled/Retired[edit]

  • CZ-1D based on a CZ-1 but with a new N2O4/UDMH second stage.
  • Project 869 reusable shuttle system with Tianjiao-1 or Chang Cheng-1 (Great Wall-1) orbiters. Project of 1980s-1990s.

ISRO

Main article: Indian Space Research Organisation § Launch vehicles

Comparison of Indian carrier rockets. Left to right: SLV, ASLV, PSLV, GSLV, LVM 3

During the 1960s and 1970s, India initiated its own launch vehicle program in alignment with its geopolitical and economic considerations. In the 1960s–1970s, the country India started with a sounding rocket in the 1960s and 1970s and advanced its research to deliver the Satellite Launch Vehicle-3 and the more advanced Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV), complete with operational supporting infrastructure by the 1990s.[14]

JAXA

H-IIA F19 launch
H-II Transfer Vehicle

Japan launched its first satellite, Ohsumi, in 1970, using ISAS' L-4S rocket. Prior to the merger, ISAS used small Mu rocket family of solid-fueled launch vehicles, while NASDA developed larger liquid-fueled launchers. In the beginning, NASDA used licensed American models.[15]

The first model of liquid-fueled launch vehicle developed domestically in Japan was the H-II, introduced in 1994. NASDA developed the H-II with two goals in mind: to be able to launch satellites using only its own technology, such as the ISAS, and to dramatically improve its launch capability over previous licensed models. To achieve these two goals, a staged combustion cycle was adopted for the first stage engine, the LE-7. The combination of the liquid hydrogen two-stage combustion cycle first stage engine and solid rocket boosters was carried over to its successor, the H-IIA and H-IIB and became the basic configuration of Japan's liquid fuel launch vehicles for 30 years, from 1994 to 2024.[15]

In 2003, JAXA was formed by merging Japan's three space agencies to streamline Japan's space program, and JAXA took over operations of the H-IIA liquid-fueled launch vehicle, the M-V solid-fuel launch vehicle, and several observation rockets from each agency. The H-IIA is a launch vehicle that improved reliability while reducing costs by making significant improvements to the H-II, and the M-V was the world's largest solid-fuel launch vehicle at the time.[15]

In November 2003, JAXA's first launch after its inauguration, H-IIA No. 6, failed, but all other H-IIA launches were successful, and as of February 2024, the H-IIA had successfully launched 47 of its 48 launches. JAXA plans to end H-IIA operations with H-IIA Flight No. 50 and retire it by March 2025.[16]

JAXA operated the H-IIB, an upgraded version of the H-IIA, from September 2009 to May 2020 and successfully launched the H-II Transfer Vehicle six times. This cargo spacecraft was responsible for resupplying the Kibo Japanese Experiment Module on the International Space Station.[17]

To be able to launch smaller mission on JAXA developed a new solid-fueled rocket, the Epsilon as a replacement to the retired M-V. The maiden flight successfully happened in 2013. So far, the rocket has flown six times with one launch failure.

In January 2017, JAXA attempted and failed to put a miniature satellite into orbit atop one of its SS520 series rockets.[18] A second attempt on 2 February 2018 was successful, putting a four kilogram CubeSat into Earth orbit. The rocket, known as the SS-520-5, is the world's smallest orbital launcher.[19]

In 2023, JAXA began operating the H3, which will replace the H-IIA and H-IIIB; the H3 is a liquid-fueled launch vehicle developed from a completely new design like the H-II, rather than an improved development like the H-IIA and H-IIB, which were based on the H-II. The design goal of the H3 is to increase launch capability at a lower cost than the H-IIA and H-IIB. To achieve this, an expander bleed cycle was used for the first time in the world for the first stage of the engine.[20][21][22]

Roscosmos

Roscosmos uses a family of several launch rockets, the most famous of them being the R-7, commonly known as the Soyuz rocket that is capable of launching about 7.5 tons into low Earth orbit (LEO). The Proton rocket (or UR-500K) has a lift capacity of over 20 tons to LEO. Smaller rockets include Rokot and other Stations.

Currently rocket development encompasses both a new rocket system, Angara, as well as enhancements of the Soyuz rocket, Soyuz-2 and Soyuz-2-3. Two modifications of the Soyuz, the Soyuz-2.1a and Soyuz-2.1b have already been successfully tested, enhancing the launch capacity to 8.5 tons to LEO.

United States

Main articles: Space Launch System and National Security Space Launch

Several governmental agencies of the United States purchase ELV launches. NASA is a major customer with the Commercial Resupply Services and Commercial Crew Development programs, also launching scientific spacecraft. The vast majority of launch vehicles for its missions, from the Redstone missile to the Delta, Atlas, Titan and Saturn rocket families, have been expendable. As its flagship crewed exploration replacement for the partially reusable Space Shuttle, NASA's newest ELV, the Space Launch System flew successfully in November 2022 after delays of more than six years. It is planned to serve in a major role on crewed exploration programs going forward.[23][24]

The United States Air Force is also an ELV customer, having designed the Titan, Atlas, and Delta families. Both the Delta IV and Atlas V from the 1994 Evolved ELV (EELV) program remain in active service, operated by the United Launch Alliance.[25] The National Security Space Launch (NSSL) competition has selected two EELV successors, the expendable Vulcan Centaur and partially reusable Falcon 9, to provide assured access to space.[26]

Iranian Space Agency

Main articles: Safir (rocket) and Simorgh (rocket)

Safir

Iran has developed an expendable satellite launch vehicle named Safir SLV. Measuring 22 m in height with a core diameter of 1.25 m, with two liquid propellant stages, a single thrust chambered first stage and a two-thrust chambered, step-throttled second stage, the SLV has a lift off mass exceeding 26 tons. The first stage consists of a lengthened up-rated Shahab-3C. According to the technical documentation presented in the annual meeting of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, it is a two-stage rocket with all liquid propellant engines. The first stage is capable of carrying the payload to the maximum altitude of 68 kilometres.[27]

The Safir-1B is the second generation of Safir SLV and can carry a satellite weighing 60 kg into an elliptical orbit of 300 to 450 km. The thrust of the Safir-1B rocket engine has been increased from 32 to 37 tons.

Simorgh

In 2010, a more powerful rocket named Simorgh was built. Its mission is to carry heavier satellites into orbit.[28][29] The Simorgh rocket is 27 meters (89 feet) long, and has a mass of 77 tonnes (85 tons).[4] Its first stage is powered by four main engines, each generating up to 29,000 kilograms (64,000 pounds) of thrust, plus a fifth which will be used for attitude control, which provides an additional 13,600 kilograms (30,000 pounds). At liftoff, these engines will generate a total of 130,000 kilograms (290,000 pounds) of thrust. Simorgh is capable of putting a 350-kilogram (770 lb) payload into a 500-kilometer (310-mile) low Earth orbit. In 2015, Israeli media reported the missile is capable of taking a crewed spacecraft or satellite into space.[30][31] The first flight of the Simorgh rocket occurred on 19 April 2016.[32]

Qoqnoos

On 2 February 2013, the head of the Iranian Space Agency, Hamid Fazeli mentioned that the new satellite launch vehicle, Qoqnoos will be used after the Simorgh SLV for heavier payloads.[33][34]

Israel Space Agency

Shavit Rocket
Shavit launcher

The Israel Space Agency is one of only seven countries that both build their own satellites and launch their own launchers. The Shavit is a space launch vehicle capable of sending payload into low Earth orbit.[35] The Shavit launcher has been used to send every Ofeq satellite to date.

The development of the Shavit began in 1983 and its operational capabilities were proven on three successful launches of the Ofek satellites on September 19, 1988; April 3, 1990; and April 5, 1995. The Shavit launchers allows low-cost and high-reliability launch of micro/mini satellites to a low Earth orbit. The Shavit launcher is developed by Malam factory, one of four factories in the IAI Electronics Group. The factory is very experienced in development, assembling, testing and operating system for use in space.

The Shavit is a triple-stage launcher solid propellant booster based on the 2-stage Jericho-II ballistic missile. The first and second stage engines are manufactured by Ta'as, and use solid fuel.[36] The third stage engines are manufactured by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. The next generation Shavit rockets, now called the Shavit-2 are being developed. The Shavit-2 is said to be made available for commercial launches in the near future.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Expendable Launch Vehicles". spacetethers.com. Retrieved 2018-12-31.
  2. ^ Jaeger, Ralph-W.; Claudon, Jean-Louis (May 1986). Ariane — The first commercial space transportation system. Proceedings of the 15th International Symposium on Space Technology and Science. Vol. 2. Tokyo, Japan: AGNE Publishing, Inc. (published 1986). Bibcode:1986spte.conf.1431J. A87-32276 13-12.
  3. ^ "Arianespace was founded in 1980 as the world's first launch services company". arianespace.com. Archived from the original on 18 February 2008. Retrieved 7 March 2008.
  4. ^ "Service & Solutions". arianespace.com. Archived from the original on 12 February 2011. Retrieved 15 February 2011.
  5. ^ "Arianespace Company profile". Arianespace. May 5, 2021. Retrieved May 25, 2021.
  6. ^ "Russians, French sign space contract.(UPI Science Report)." United Press International. 12 April 2005. Retrieved on 24 September 2009.
  7. ^ "Contact Us". Arianespace. Retrieved 11 June 2020.
  8. ^ "空射运载火箭亮相珠海航展". 新华网. 2006-11-01. Archived from the original on February 7, 2008. Retrieved May 3, 2008.
  9. ^ "CZ-2EA地面风载试验". 中国空气动力研究与发展中心. 2008-02-04. Archived from the original on February 13, 2009. Retrieved June 30, 2008.
  10. ^ "独家:"神八"将用改进型火箭发射 2010年左右首飞". 人民网. June 25, 2008. Archived from the original on June 10, 2016. Retrieved June 26, 2008.
  11. ^ "让年轻人与航天事业共同成长". 中国人事报. 2008-03-14. Archived from the original on 2011-07-15. Retrieved July 19, 2008.
  12. ^ 中国科学技术协会 (2007). 航天科学技术学科发展报告. Beijing, PRC: 中国科学技术协会出版社. p. 17. ISBN 978-7504648662. Archived from the original on 2008-09-11.
  13. ^ "国际空间大学公众论坛关注中国航天(3)". People Daily. 2007-07-11. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved July 13, 2007.
  14. ^ Gupta, S.C.; Suresh, B.N.; Sivan, K. (2007). "Evolution of Indian launch vehicle technologies" (PDF). Current Science. 93 (12). Bangalore: Indian Academy of Sciences: 1697. Archived (PDF) from the original on 6 August 2020. Retrieved 17 March 2021.
  15. ^ a b c "History and Prospect of Liquid Rocket Engine Development in Japan". J Stage. Archived from the original on 29 December 2021. Retrieved 21 February 2024.
  16. ^ "H2Aロケット48号機打ち上げ成功 情報収集衛星を搭載". Nikkei. 12 January 2024. Archived from the original on 13 February 2024. Retrieved 21 February 2024.
  17. ^ "「こうのとり」ミッションの集大成、そして未来へバトンをつないだ最終号機". Mynavi Corporation. 9 September 2020. Archived from the original on 26 February 2023. Retrieved 21 February 2024.
  18. ^ Kyodo (15 January 2017). "JAXA fails in bid to launch world's smallest satellite-carrying rocket". The Japan Times. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  19. ^ "Souped-up sounding rocket lifts off from Japan with tiny satellite". Spaceflight Now. 2 February 2018. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  20. ^ "新型基幹ロケット「H3」の挑戦 1/5". Mynavi Corporation. 15 July 2015. Archived from the original on 12 September 2017. Retrieved 21 February 2024.
  21. ^ "新型基幹ロケット「H3」の挑戦 2/5". Mynavi Corporation. 22 July 2015. Archived from the original on 28 September 2017. Retrieved 21 February 2024.
  22. ^ "新型基幹ロケットの開発状況について" (PDF) (Press release). JAXA. 2 July 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 January 2023. Retrieved 21 February 2024.
  23. ^ Gebhardt, Chris; Burghardt, Thomas (2022-11-16). "SLS makes successful debut flight, sending Artemis I to the Moon". NASASpaceFlight.com. Retrieved 2022-11-19.
  24. ^ "NASA Prepares Rocket, Spacecraft Ahead of Tropical Storm Nicole, Re-targets Launch". NASA. 8 November 2022. Retrieved 8 November 2022.
  25. ^ "Boeing, Lockheed Martin to Form Launch Services Joint Venture | SpaceRef - Your Space Reference". Archived from the original on 2012-12-09. Retrieved 2006-02-28.
  26. ^ Erwin, Sandra (7 August 2020). "Pentagon picks SpaceX and ULA to remain its primary launch providers". SpaceNews. Retrieved 24 August 2022.
  27. ^ "Our website is currently undergoing scheduled maintenance" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 5 September 2015. Retrieved 15 March 2009.
  28. ^ "Iran unveils three new home-made satellites". Payvand.com. 22 November 2006. Archived from the original on 6 February 2010. Retrieved 6 February 2010.
  29. ^ "Iran launches spacecraft carrying animals / Space program breakthroughs signal the dawn of a new era of national development: Ahmadinejad". Tehran Times. Archived from the original on 12 February 2010. Retrieved 6 February 2010.
  30. ^ "Israeli TV shows 'Iranian missile' that 'can reach far beyond Europe'". The Times of Israel. Archived from the original on 25 December 2016. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  31. ^ "Israel News - is Iran on Its Way to Sending a Man to Outer Space? - JerusalemOnline". Archived from the original on 1 July 2015. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  32. ^ Eshel, Tamir (24 April 2016). "Simorgh First Launch – an Iranian Success or Failure? | Defense Update". defense-update.com. Archived from the original on 27 November 2016. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
  33. ^ "Details and revealing of Nahid Satellite, Launch of Nahid with Safir B-1 (Persian)". mehrnews.com. 2 February 2013. Archived from the original on 5 February 2013. Retrieved 3 February 2013.
  34. ^ "Ahmadinejad to unveil Nahid Satellite soon (English)". mehrnews.com. 2 February 2013. Retrieved 17 November 2022.
  35. ^ "Space launch systems - Shavit". Deagel. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
  36. ^ "Shavit", Britannica