I read SpaceX’s biggest rival is developing “space trucks” to ferry cargo in an orbital economy in Quartz which linked to this April 2016 outline of ULA's view of Transportation Enabling a Robust Cislunar Space Economy.
This is quite an exciting outline of what the logistics of a a cis-lunar space economy might look like, and there is a lot of ideas and new ways of thinking to take in. One of them seems here to be to not have to cary your 2nd stage full of fuel into space between your first stage and your payload - am I understanding this correctly?
How does bringing propellants up from the surface of the Earth (the other sources are pretty far out there) allow one to avoid Earth's deep gravitational well? Are they going to collect water from clouds instead? I'm missing something here!
above: Slide number 8 from ULA's Transportation Enabling a Robust Cislunar Space Economy annotated later to indicate the connection between transport of terrestrial water to orbit while avoiding Earth's deep gravitational well.