Partial G Launch Vehicles
To improve reliability and cost, an off-the-shelf launch vehicle should be used for the partial gravity health experiment. To increase the chances of the partial gravity health experiment being carried out, the lowest cost man rated vehicle should be chosen.
Since developing a partial gravity research station will take years, we can consider not just launchers that are operational today, but also launchers that are in development.
Currently there are only two human transport vehicles in operation:
- Space Shuttle, extremely expensive and to be phased out in 2010. The airlock is not in the center of gravity of the vehicle, so it cannot be docked to a rotating station.
- Soyuz, this may be an option. The Soyuz already spins while in orbit, at least on its way to the ISS.
Another candidate is the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and the Dragon capsule.
- A careful comparison of Soyuz and Falcon 9/Dragon.
- Are there any other possibilities?
- Are some of the available vehicles big enough to carry up the crew and their supplies, reducing the number of launches?