Author Topic: Reasonable Answer to why not all EELV Plan?  (Read 130853 times)

Offline BackInAction

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Reasonable Answer to why not all EELV Plan?
« on: 07/13/2011 05:37 PM »
I've followed this forum for about a years time, and in that time I've learned a lot.  This forum is filled with very intelligent, hard working, and devoted people from many disciplines.  Everyone has done an excellent job answering my questions, except one:

We have an EELV industry base that needs people to order launches.  Their launchers are big enough for any future plans we have and both ULA and SpaceX can provide 100 ton launchers if desired within several years.

So why aren't we doing our launches entirely through them?  We would be supporting the industry, make for a competitive environment where costs and performance are always being updated, and putting our focus on payloads (where the science really is).

Does this all come down to simple politics?  If so, why are there so many on this board that are so pro-SLS when they have little to gain from it's creation compared to what they could lose (funding for actual payloads).

Offline Namechange User

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Re: Reasonable Answer to why not all EELV Plan?
« Reply #1 on: 07/13/2011 05:40 PM »
Because nobody knows the general or specific information required to make such a decision.  It is about more than the rockets. 

The proper way to evaluate anything is with the rockets as a subtier to the greater purpose in order to evaluate what method gives the lowest total per mission cost for the desired objectives. 
« Last Edit: 07/13/2011 05:45 PM by OV-106 »
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Offline BackInAction

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Re: Reasonable Answer to why not all EELV Plan?
« Reply #2 on: 07/13/2011 05:50 PM »
Because nobody knows the general or specific information required to make such a decision.  It is about more than the rockets. 

The proper way to evaluate anything is with the rockets as a subtier to the greater purpose in order to evaluate what method gives the lowest total per mission cost for the desired objectives. 

But congress appeared to know this information enough in their minds to implement a course of action.

Offline Downix

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Re: Reasonable Answer to why not all EELV Plan?
« Reply #3 on: 07/13/2011 06:02 PM »
The main issue with an all EELV plan is that there are architectures which surpass EELV capability, such as the Mars architecture for 2030.  it would need 4 years of sucking every single EELV to implement.

Now, there is the AJAX proposal, which levereges the EELV's for HLV, giving similar increase in production while retaining the shuttle derived heritage required by the Authorization Act for SLS.
chuck - Toilet paper has no real value? Try living with 5 other adults for 6 months in a can with no toilet paper. Man oh man. Toilet paper would be worth it's weight in gold!

Offline libs0n

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Re: Reasonable Answer to why not all EELV Plan?
« Reply #4 on: 07/13/2011 06:12 PM »
The main issue with an all EELV plan is that there are architectures which surpass EELV capability, such as the Mars architecture for 2030.  it would need 4 years of sucking every single EELV to implement.

EELV capability is expandable through investment the same as the capability to launch SLS does not exist and requires investment to create.  And you only make that investment should and when you actually require it.  And EELV competitors can bring their own capability to the table.
« Last Edit: 07/13/2011 06:14 PM by libs0n »

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Re: Reasonable Answer to why not all EELV Plan?
« Reply #5 on: 07/13/2011 06:13 PM »

But congress appeared to know this information enough in their minds to implement a course of action.

Do you think Congress works in a vaccuum?  The speak with NASA on many different levels.  They get a wide range of opinion beyond what the "official policy" is from those who are political appointees.  This shaped that opinion. 

The concensus has been, and you also here General Bolden saying this now as well, that to do meaningful exploration that some form of SLS-class booster is necessary. 

If this was not the case, and all of NASA really believed this to be true, NASA has had ample time to demonstrate what, how and why they could perform these same type of general missions without an SLS-class vehicle.  That has not been done for either case, with or without SLS. 

Ask yourself why, start asking the questions yourself. 
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Offline Jim

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Re: Reasonable Answer to why not all EELV Plan?
« Reply #6 on: 07/13/2011 06:16 PM »
The main issue with an all EELV plan is that there are architectures which surpass EELV capability, such as the Mars architecture for 2030.  it would need 4 years of sucking every single EELV to implement.

Now, there is the AJAX proposal, which levereges the EELV's for HLV, giving similar increase in production while retaining the shuttle derived heritage required by the Authorization Act for SLS.

Most of those architectures are not going to be followed.

Offline Arthur

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Re: Reasonable Answer to why not all EELV Plan?
« Reply #7 on: 07/13/2011 06:30 PM »
Because nobody knows the general or specific information required to make such a decision.  It is about more than the rockets. 

The proper way to evaluate anything is with the rockets as a subtier to the greater purpose in order to evaluate what method gives the lowest total per mission cost for the desired objectives. 
While I agree with the concept, how can one reconcile Long-Term objectives with regular administration ‘course corrections’? How do you budget a constantly moving target?

The ‘flexible’ architectures suggested building a set of capabilities that would allow future missions to build upon. We have 20 ton to LEO launch capability, we need to keep it. We don’t have 50-75 ton to LEO capability, but we must ultimately choose to build it (or not build it) before any mission reaches the launch stage given the political reality of our republic.

We have lots of Architectures to choose from, so what is possible?
Given what is possible, what is affordable and sustainable?
Of the possible, affordable and sustainable options, which benefits the greatest number of possible future missions?

He plants trees to benefit another generation.
For better or worse, it is tree planting time. We can have no control over what some future carpenter will build with the wood from our tree, except to recognize that certain woods are better suited to certain purposes.

One thing is certain, if we plant no trees, then there will be no lumber for the future carpenter to build anything with – he can only plant the tree himself to benefit a still more distant generation.


Offline Downix

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Re: Reasonable Answer to why not all EELV Plan?
« Reply #8 on: 07/13/2011 06:33 PM »
The main issue with an all EELV plan is that there are architectures which surpass EELV capability, such as the Mars architecture for 2030.  it would need 4 years of sucking every single EELV to implement.

Now, there is the AJAX proposal, which levereges the EELV's for HLV, giving similar increase in production while retaining the shuttle derived heritage required by the Authorization Act for SLS.

Most of those architectures are not going to be followed.
Off topic.  He asked why, I gave one of the answers.  Weither a particular architecture would be followed or not is out of scope.
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Re: Reasonable Answer to why not all EELV Plan?
« Reply #9 on: 07/13/2011 06:47 PM »
Because nobody knows the general or specific information required to make such a decision.  It is about more than the rockets. 

The proper way to evaluate anything is with the rockets as a subtier to the greater purpose in order to evaluate what method gives the lowest total per mission cost for the desired objectives. 
While I agree with the concept, how can one reconcile Long-Term objectives with regular administration ‘course corrections’? How do you budget a constantly moving target?

The ‘flexible’ architectures suggested building a set of capabilities that would allow future missions to build upon. We have 20 ton to LEO launch capability, we need to keep it. We don’t have 50-75 ton to LEO capability, but we must ultimately choose to build it (or not build it) before any mission reaches the launch stage given the political reality of our republic.

We have lots of Architectures to choose from, so what is possible?
Given what is possible, what is affordable and sustainable?
Of the possible, affordable and sustainable options, which benefits the greatest number of possible future missions?

He plants trees to benefit another generation.
For better or worse, it is tree planting time. We can have no control over what some future carpenter will build with the wood from our tree, except to recognize that certain woods are better suited to certain purposes.

One thing is certain, if we plant no trees, then there will be no lumber for the future carpenter to build anything with – he can only plant the tree himself to benefit a still more distant generation.



"Flexible architecture" in this case is being bastardized as an excuse to do nothing.  It assumes we cannot do anything today and must stand down everything to do R&D where at some point in the future the technologies developed will lead to someone, somewhere at some point saying we can now do something.  The problem is that there could always be someone saying "what if we just developed 'this or that' first and think of what we could do then". 

I know as well as anyone there are certain technologies and capabilities that will ultimately be required.  So I get the "capability approach".  The problem is there still needs to be the intent to use them and at what point in time.  The "how" and the "why" element that is completely missing now.  This provides focus.  This provides a schedule, which will absolutely be required to develop a budget (as you suggested). 

If the goals are valid and worthy, progress is shown, etc I think there will be less "desire" to change direction every 4-8 years in order for the next person to put their personal stamp on it.  The problem in the hear and now is the basic building block for that, the focus, is not there and this will ultimately lead to more time lost, more money spent for little return, etc. 
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Offline Jim

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Re: Reasonable Answer to why not all EELV Plan?
« Reply #10 on: 07/13/2011 07:02 PM »
The main issue with an all EELV plan is that there are architectures which surpass EELV capability, such as the Mars architecture for 2030.  it would need 4 years of sucking every single EELV to implement.

Now, there is the AJAX proposal, which levereges the EELV's for HLV, giving similar increase in production while retaining the shuttle derived heritage required by the Authorization Act for SLS.

Most of those architectures are not going to be followed.
Off topic.  He asked why, I gave one of the answers.  Weither a particular architecture would be followed or not is out of scope.

Not so.  We aren't going to do an architecture that needs 7 Ares V much less all EELV's production for 4 years.  So the point is meaningless

Offline kraisee

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Re: Reasonable Answer to why not all EELV Plan?
« Reply #11 on: 07/13/2011 07:06 PM »
Because nobody knows the general or specific information required to make such a decision.  It is about more than the rockets. 

The proper way to evaluate anything is with the rockets as a subtier to the greater purpose in order to evaluate what method gives the lowest total per mission cost for the desired objectives. 

With all due respect OV, I have to disagree.

If you completely separate the LV from the mission/spacecraft analysis process, you can often create new constraints on the spacecraft and mission that a more open approach would not suffer from.

For these really big multi-billion, multi-decadal programs it is highly worth-while taking a more holistic approach.

For example:

If you baseline all the mission components to EELV-class vehicles, then your payloads will all be in the <4.4m diameter/10-25mT range.   This necessitates multiple docking assemblies and connections, greater testing requirements etc.   And it can even remove some design options from the trade space entirely (Altair horizontal for example).   All of these things will help to drive costs higher.

You could certainly still lift those same components on an HLV, but you would then be including a number of unnecessary penalties in the system that a more optimized solution would not suffer from.


All I'm saying, is that the entire mission requirements need to be studied, and the various options should each be considered on their specific merits as a whole system, not a collection of disparate systems.

The solution that fits all of the requirements best (including things like political) should be the one that is vigorously pursued.

Just MHO.   YMMV.

Ross.
« Last Edit: 07/13/2011 07:10 PM by kraisee »
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Offline BackInAction

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Re: Reasonable Answer to why not all EELV Plan?
« Reply #12 on: 07/13/2011 07:12 PM »
From what I understand, the only payloads we'll be launching in the next few years will consist of:
-Orion/MPCV
-Bigelow module
-Cargo/Experiments
-Satellites

The space station is complete.  No payloads are currently being produced that require anything larger than an EELV class right now.  While we may get to Mars by 2030, what pieces do we need in the next 19 years that would require anything larger than an EELV?

So why do we need SLS when we have no payloads in the near-term that NEED it and plenty of other options for launchers later on (when they are appropriate)?

Offline sdsds

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Re: Reasonable Answer to why not all EELV Plan?
« Reply #13 on: 07/13/2011 07:14 PM »
why [isn't NASA] doing [its] launches entirely through [the] EELV industry base?

There appears to be resistance at several levels to approaches which make NASA human spaceflight dependent on intellectual property which NASA could only "rent" and not "own."  Ownership here means both control over what is developed, control over how it is developed, and perhaps to a lesser extent control over who else gets to use it.

Asked differently, for what types of products and services should the nation be dependent on multinational corporate interests which it does not control and which, in the end, owe it no allegiance?  (EDIT to add: no disparagement of LM or Boeing is intended by this.  Obviously USAF isn't too worried!)
« Last Edit: 07/13/2011 07:16 PM by sdsds »
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Offline kraisee

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Re: Reasonable Answer to why not all EELV Plan?
« Reply #14 on: 07/13/2011 07:21 PM »
Not so.  We aren't going to do an architecture that needs 7 Ares V much less all EELV's production for 4 years.  So the point is meaningless

DRM 5.0 was nothing more than a weak attempt to justify the Ares-V.

However, even DRM 3.0 still required 6 HLV launches to place 420 metric tons into LEO for each full Mars mission.

Ross.
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Offline clongton

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Re: Reasonable Answer to why not all EELV Plan?
« Reply #15 on: 07/13/2011 07:30 PM »
EELV capability is expandable through investment the same as the capability to launch SLS does not exist and requires investment to create.  And you only make that investment should and when you actually require it.  And EELV competitors can bring their own capability to the table.

Re: Investment. The difference between a government owned launch system and one owned by a commercial concern is that one has to make a profit and the other one doesn't. The government doesn't have to make a profit. It only has to spend everything the treasury gives it. But for the commercial companies there would first need to be a solid business case that showed there is a ROI to be had for the billions of dollars of investment money it would take to bring the EELV HLV online. So far that business case has not been made. Therefore no member of the board in his right mind is going to invest the stockholders money on any project, including an EELV HLV, that all analysis shows will loose money. Hence, no EELV HLV.
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Offline libs0n

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Re: Reasonable Answer to why not all EELV Plan?
« Reply #16 on: 07/13/2011 08:00 PM »
EELV capability is expandable through investment the same as the capability to launch SLS does not exist and requires investment to create.  And you only make that investment should and when you actually require it.  And EELV competitors can bring their own capability to the table.

Re: Investment. The difference between a government owned launch system and one owned by a commercial concern is that one has to make a profit and the other one doesn't. The government doesn't have to make a profit. It only has to spend everything the treasury gives it. But for the commercial companies there would first need to be a solid business case that showed there is a ROI to be had for the billions of dollars of investment money it would take to bring the EELV HLV online. So far that business case has not been made. Therefore no member of the board in his right mind is going to invest the stockholders money on any project, including an EELV HLV, that all analysis shows will loose money. Hence, no EELV HLV.

Downix is reffering to flight/production rate capability, although my statement is also applicable to expanded launcher capability.

1.  NASA investment to meet NASA's determined atypical needs.

2.  Higher demand levels are the environment in which it can make corporate sense to expand capability, to serve and compete.   Launch prices are pre paid and part of the price can go toward expanding capability to meet the contract or the company can get loans/investment to pay for capability to meet contracted or expected demand.

Take SpaceX, when they won the CRS mission contract.  Did they have the capability to meet that contract at that time?  No, they will expand capacity to meet that contract based upon that contract, and they bid their price knowing that.

Offline clongton

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Re: Reasonable Answer to why not all EELV Plan?
« Reply #17 on: 07/13/2011 08:19 PM »
Take SpaceX, when they won the CRS mission contract.  Did they have the capability to meet that contract at that time?  No, they will expand capacity to meet that contract based upon that contract, and they bid their price knowing that.

That CRS contract was the point at which they had a business case to justify the investment because the contract gave them the right to expect a ROI. That was exactly my point because without an expected ROI commercial companies will not make the necessary investment.
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Offline baldusi

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Re: Reasonable Answer to why not all EELV Plan?
« Reply #18 on: 07/13/2011 08:32 PM »
Take SpaceX, when they won the CRS mission contract.  Did they have the capability to meet that contract at that time?  No, they will expand capacity to meet that contract based upon that contract, and they bid their price knowing that.

That CRS contract was the point at which they had a business case to justify the investment because the contract gave them the right to expect a ROI. That was exactly my point because without an expected ROI commercial companies will not make the necessary investment.

Which bring back the argument of making a CRS of x tonnage at MLO, for example. If the lowest bidders use lots of smaller LV (in this context, the EELV is a small LV) rather than huge systems, that could be a point of the possible "best" solution. But here is when you need to define how many tons, of what size, with how long transit time, and for how many years. Basically, you'd have to commit to an actual plan. Which they don't have. And to a long term budget, which I won't go into detailing it's difficulty.

Offline libs0n

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Re: Reasonable Answer to why not all EELV Plan?
« Reply #19 on: 07/13/2011 08:35 PM »
Hence, no EELV HLV.

edit:
The existence of a EELV HLV to meet NASA's determined needs is not confined to a single scenario where ULA develops it completely on its own to meet speculative or existence market, or their not doing that for determined business reasons because there is no market.

If NASA determines it needs HLV capacity it can compete development funds to create that capability from which it would buy, as a service.  NASA invests in the creation of capability to meet its determined needs.  NASA's determined need is the market.

The lack of present capacity as such does not preclude such capacity increase should NASA objectively determine it desires such capacity.  The EELV situation isn't frozen.
« Last Edit: 07/13/2011 09:17 PM by libs0n »

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