Space tug

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A space tug or upper stage is a space vehicle (manned or unmanned) used to transfer payloads (such as geosynchronous satellites or manned spacecraft) between low and high Earth orbits, or between Earth orbit and lunar orbit.

Space tug proposals[edit]

Parts of the Space tug

A reusable space tug was studied in 1969 as part of NASAs Space Transportation System, but went unfunded, as did every other component of that system except the Space Shuttle. [1]

Parom, a reusable space tug, was proposed as part of the Kliper program.

COTS proposal[edit]

Space Systems/Loral and Constellation Services International have proposed a reusable space tug based on the 1300 platform. The tug would be used to bring supplies to the International Space Station as part of the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program.[2]


The VASIMR electric plasma rocket could be used as a high-efficiency space tug, using only 9 tons of Argon propellant to make a round trip to the moon, delivering 34 tons of cargo from Low Earth Orbit to low lunar orbit. The Ad Astra Rocket Company is working to utilize the technology to make a space tug.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hepplewhite, T.A. The Space Shuttle Decision: NASA's Search for a Reusable Space Vehicle. Washington, DC: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1999.
  2. ^ "SS/L Commercial Orbital Transportation Services". 2007. 
  • Wade, Mark. "Space Tug". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Retrieved June 15, 2011.