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Space


VentureStar

VentureStarT was Lockheed Martin's potential commercial follow-on to the X-33 vehicle being developed for NASA's RLV program. The VentureStar vehicle was to be similar in design to the X-33 but twice the size and about eight times the launch mass. VentureStar was powered by seven linear aerospike engines. Although original plans for the VentureStar called for an internal payload bay similar to the X-33, the design was modified during 1999 to shift to an external payload bay.

Lockheed Martin planned to target the commercial satellite launch market with VentureStar. The company hoped to operate the vehicle at a flight rate of at least 40 launches per year, leading to launch costs of approximately $1,000 per pound. NASA and Lockheed Martin also studied the accommodation of crew missions on VentureStar. One option was to launch VentureStar as a cargo-only craft initially, with crew-capable modules phased-in later.

Development of VentureStar was underway in parallel with the X-33. Although fielding the VentureStar vehicle was contingent on the results of the X-33 program and on raising an expected $5 billion in funding, Lockheed Martin established VentureStar LLC to manage the ongoing development of the vehicle concept.

Lockheed Martin planned to contract for the use of two spaceport facilities for VentureStar operations. In July 1998, Lockheed Martin provided its spaceport requirements for the VentureStar to interested parties, with fifteen states responding to the qualifications.



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