Plans by the U.S. Air Force to replace its expendable launchers with a reusable booster system (RBS) have taken a big step forward with the award of three technology development contracts potentially worth up to $250 million. The RBS concept is aimed at cutting launch costs more than 50% compared with the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) family by combining a vertically launched reusable first stage with expendable upper stages. After deploying the upper stack containing the ...

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