Systems architecting methodology for space transportation infrastructure

Alessandro Aliakbargolkar, Edward F. Crawley, Anthony C. Wicht, Jonathan A. Battat, Emily D. Calandrelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Evaluation of launch architectures requires the assessment of options over a range of dimensions, which can be broadly grouped into technical performance, time to initial capability, cost, and satisfaction of stakeholders' various needs. The challenge is to fairly compare a broad range of architectures across these dimensions. This paper presents a systems architecting methodology for comprehensive but transparent exploration of available options for future space transportation infrastructure, as applied to a super heavy lift launch infrastructure case study. The methodology supports investigation of the tradeoffs associated with stage propellant selection, launch vehicle configuration, and other relevant design parameters. The study considers potential low-Earth-orbit-class vehicles derived from the baseline vehicle to deliver early benefit from the heavy lift vehicle and provide an ongoing cost effective low-Earth-orbit service. The technical assessment methodology is validated against existing launch vehicles. The paper demonstrates how a field of 129 possible launch vehicles can be transparently reduced to seven possible designs on technical considerations and how further narrowing the design space requires weighting competing stakeholder priorities. The paper shows how coarse tradespace exploration early in the process can inform decision making on future launch developments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-590
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Spacecraft and Rockets
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2013


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