Quality initiatives in the commercial development of reusable launch vehicles
Perry, Derick I. L.
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This thesis examines positive tools and techniques accessible and helpful to improving quality of the Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV). Over the last three decades, NASA has directly been involved in developing modern and technologically improved RLVs. The technologies were projected to facilitate cheaper access to orbital space, as evidenced by its past X-programs and space launch initiatives. Different private firms have attempted and are still attempting to develop new RLVs for orbital space applications. The large development expenses of these kinds of systems, coupled with the downturn of the Low Earth Orbit market, have made development of RLVs, in particular by the commercial sector, increasingly difficult. For these reasons, most commercial space transportation firms have shifted their focus toward suborbital market opportunities, where the technical challenges are lower and market entry is less expensive. This thesis identifies techniques within Lean Aerospace Initiative that are employed by market players today and also best suited for the RLV effort. Additionally, this thesis provides a historical perspective of both RLV development efforts within the government and industry, as well as origins of modern quality teachings to establish a universally accepted foundation of knowledge, upon which further examination can be based.
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