Jerome Pearson has
provided technology innovations in methods for low-cost launch of space payloads since he conceived of the space elevator
in 1975. The space elevator concept is still the lowest-cost space launcher, but until carbon nanotubes are a practical building
material, it may be decades away from construction.
more near-term efforts, Jerome Pearson collaborated with Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corporation on a contract with the
Air Force and DARPA to evaluate low-cost launch techniques for the DARPA Orbital Express concept. Using innovative approaches
to cost analysis, Pearson examined conventional launch vehicle systems, single-stage-to-orbit (SSTO) systems, and revolutionary
launch techniques. The study found that current launch vehicle technology cannot reduce launch prices below about $1000 per
kilogram to LEO, and that even reusable launch vehicles would only halve that. Pearson’s concept for a combination
gun launch and orbiting tether catch could conceivably lower the cost of space launch to about $300 per kilogram, but to get
below $100 per kilogram would require the space elevator. STAR, Inc. has developed a concept for a LEO maneuvering vehicle
that could be a testbed for the orbiting tether part of a low-cost launch system.