Crawl Before Walk:

The Air Force is on a “crawl, walk, run” continuum when it comes to developing a capability to quickly put satellites in orbit, either to replace silenced satellites or to loft special-purpose birds quickly, Air Force Space Command chief Gen. Robert Kehler said Friday at an AFA space symposium in Los Angeles. Right now, the Air Force is at “crawl,” but it should be at “walk” in Operationally Responsive Space by 2010, he said. The Air Force believes that a two-stage-to-orbit approach, involving a reusable first stage and a disposable second stage, is the way to go. Slides presented at the symposium suggested a notional near-term capability of 5,000 pounds to low earth orbit, and a long-term goal of 56,000 pounds to LEO, at less than $20,000 per pound.