Author Topic: Boeing complete SLS Pathfinder Tank as MAF ET operations end  (Read 16457 times)

Offline Chris Bergin

One of two SLS articles that we've been working via L2. Next one early next week.

This one is mainly hardware, noting the Boeing SLS Pathfinder, MAF tooling and MAF "transition".

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2011/08/boeing-complete-sls-pathfinder-tank-maf-et-operations-end/

Offline clongton

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Interesting article Chris - thanks. More progress to watch.
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Offline edkyle99

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One of two SLS articles that we've been working via L2. Next one early next week.

This one is mainly hardware, noting the Boeing SLS Pathfinder, MAF tooling and MAF "transition".

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2011/08/boeing-complete-sls-pathfinder-tank-maf-et-operations-end/

There's the Ares I pathfinder LOX tank.  ... 

 - Ed Kyle

Offline Tim S

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No Ed Kyle. There's the SLS Pathfinder LOX Tank. As much as you'd love Ares I to come back, this has been explained to you this is NOT Ares, this is for SLS, and was subscale for a reason.
« Last Edit: 08/27/2011 03:48 AM by Tim S »

Offline Chris Bergin

Yeah, although it's very clever of Boeing to use their Ares US contract to build this subscale 5.5m tank to practise the 8.4m SLS tankage construction.

You can understand the Ares US comments we had when we first ran the memos and pictures on L2, but then it was explained as to why via the use of the Upper Stage Production Contract (USPC).

But its name is the SLS Pathfinder.

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There has GOT to be some way they can turn this into reality! Even though some higher-ups are resisting this, the SLS CAN be done with existing technology and know-how to acheive not a Battlestar/Ares V, but something sensible with a clear upgrade path. The next step is to see how to do all this without making the naysayers wildest cost estimates come true!
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Offline edkyle99

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No Ed Kyle. There's the SLS Pathfinder LOX Tank. As much as you'd love Ares I to come back, this has been explained to you this is NOT Ares, this is for SLS, and was subscale for a reason.

NASA can call it whatever it wants to call it, but its real origin is quite clear.  It is 5.5 meters diameter, its plans and tooling having previously been devised for Ares I.  If it was a real SLS pathfinder tank, it would be 8.4 meters or whatever diameter.  Unless SLS is being shrunk down to 5.5 meters?

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 08/27/2011 04:09 AM by edkyle99 »

Offline Jason Sole

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Another very good article Chris!

There has GOT to be some way they can turn this into reality! Even though some higher-ups are resisting this, the SLS CAN be done with existing technology and know-how to acheive not a Battlestar/Ares V, but something sensible with a clear upgrade path. The next step is to see how to do all this without making the naysayers wildest cost estimates come true!

Well yes! I thought the language Boeing used was excellent. They weren't hiding away from it like some, and even mentioned how Congress agreed it :)

Lots of Boeing love from me for that!

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Thank you to all of the NASA and contractor engineers, scientists, and support personnel who served the American space program so diligently.

We are all blessed and thankful for your service.

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Offline MATTBLAK

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No Ed Kyle. There's the SLS Pathfinder LOX Tank. As much as you'd love Ares I to come back, this has been explained to you this is NOT Ares, this is for SLS, and was subscale for a reason.

NASA can call it whatever it wants to call it, but its real origin is quite clear.  It is 5.5 meters diameter, its plans and tooling having previously been devised for Ares I.  If it was a real SLS pathfinder tank, it would be 8.4 meters or whatever diameter.  Unless SLS is being shrunk down to 5.5 meters?

 - Ed Kyle

No, I think they were just saving money by using what was 'lying around', Ed. The next pathfinder tank should be 8.4m, unless the upper stage decision ends up being a clear derivative of the Ares 1 upper stage; perhaps lengthened slightly for more propellant for SLS' EDS duties.
« Last Edit: 08/27/2011 04:17 AM by MATTBLAK »
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Offline DDG40

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No Ed Kyle. There's the SLS Pathfinder LOX Tank. As much as you'd love Ares I to come back, this has been explained to you this is NOT Ares, this is for SLS, and was subscale for a reason.

NASA can call it whatever it wants to call it, but its real origin is quite clear.  It is 5.5 meters diameter, its plans and tooling having previously been devised for Ares I.  If it was a real SLS pathfinder tank, it would be 8.4 meters or whatever diameter.  Unless SLS is being shrunk down to 5.5 meters?

 - Ed Kyle

No, I think they were just saving money by using what was 'lying around', Ed. The next pathfinder tank should be 8.4m, unless the upper stage decision ends up being a clear derivative of the Ares 1 upper stage; perhaps lengthened slightly for more propellant for SLS' EDS duties.

This is just a guess but I believe the smaller pathfinder is a study on welding of the new spun dome. The patherfinder might have a new type flange.
I have seen the pathfinder and it has 2 different type domes on it. The gore panel dome and the spun dome.
« Last Edit: 08/27/2011 04:42 AM by DDG40 »

Offline Lars_J

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Testing new methods of tank manufacturing is a good thing. But if the 8.4m SLS stage 1 tank will be built with new technologies, the Shuttle heritage of the tank is slipping away. But don't take that as a bad comment - it is encouraging to see actual hardware, and more efficient ways to build it.
« Last Edit: 08/27/2011 04:36 AM by Lars_J »

Offline sdsds

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Hmm.  How many of the SLS 8.4m tank domes will be spin-formed?  Zero would be comfortable guess.  So is this tank really an SLS pathfinder, or is it just named the SLS pathfinder?

Nonetheless this is another Great Article, Chris!  Just the right level of detail, even showing a photo of some amazing ET 8.4m tank weld apparatus.
-- sdsds --

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Offline STS Tony

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Another very interesting article. Great to see things moving on. Feel terrible for the lost MAF people. Heroes of the schedule for Shuttle in those 2007-9 years.

Offline Stardust9906

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Great article Chris.  Glad to see that we are seeing some progress with SLS.

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Very nice write up Chris!

Offline hydra9

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Boeing has been a strong  advocate for building a heavy lift vehicle. I applaud their dedication towards moving HV development along-- despite the reluctance of the White House to seriously get going with its agreed commitment to  SLS program.

Marcel F. Williams

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Thanks Chris for showing that NASA is actually spending SLS funds on SLS tasks.

I noticed one thing that may have escaped most. That the core is not really going to be an modified ET but a modern tech tank and structure although the diameter is common to that of the ET so that the handling tooling is the same as what was used on the ET. The welding systems are being replaced to be able to use modern tank welding practices.

All of this points to a less expensive and less manpower intensive manufacturing of the core than what occured on the ET. Also since the new processes are different any retained or rehired personnel would have to be trained on the new processes.

Offline Harold KSC

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Thanks Chris for showing that NASA is actually spending SLS funds on SLS tasks.


Just a point on this. There are no real SLS funds allocated. The delaying tactic from Bolden and company means they are trying to force the SLS funds into helping their commercial friends, who now apparently want more (so much for their projections).

Boeing and others are fighting back and spending their own time and  money to push this forward. This is clever as because of the delays by Bolden and company, money was wasted on the cancelled Constellation program. They have converted that contracted money into SLS work. A genius move.

And yes, Boeing are a commercial company, so this is very telling about the confidence in SLS. Look at their statements in Chris's very good article.

Offline Jim

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Boeing has been a strong  advocate for building a heavy lift vehicle. I applaud their dedication towards moving HV development along-- despite the reluctance of the White House to seriously get going with its agreed commitment to  SLS program.

Marcel F. Williams

They are not advocates, just looking for a buck

Offline Namechange User

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Thanks Chris for showing that NASA is actually spending SLS funds on SLS tasks.


Just a point on this. There are no real SLS funds allocated. The delaying tactic from Bolden and company means they are trying to force the SLS funds into helping their commercial friends, who now apparently want more (so much for their projections).

Boeing and others are fighting back and spending their own time and  money to push this forward. This is clever as because of the delays by Bolden and company, money was wasted on the cancelled Constellation program. They have converted that contracted money into SLS work. A genius move.

And yes, Boeing are a commercial company, so this is very telling about the confidence in SLS. Look at their statements in Chris's very good article.

Well said, and very true.  However, for everyone else, like all things Boeing and others out there won't do that forever for obvious reasons.
Enjoying viewing the forum a little better now by filtering certain users.

Online oldAtlas_Eguy

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Thanks Chris for showing that NASA is actually spending SLS funds on SLS tasks.


Just a point on this. There are no real SLS funds allocated. The delaying tactic from Bolden and company means they are trying to force the SLS funds into helping their commercial friends, who now apparently want more (so much for their projections).

Boeing and others are fighting back and spending their own time and  money to push this forward. This is clever as because of the delays by Bolden and company, money was wasted on the cancelled Constellation program. They have converted that contracted money into SLS work. A genius move.

And yes, Boeing are a commercial company, so this is very telling about the confidence in SLS. Look at their statements in Chris's very good article.

Well said, and very true.  However, for everyone else, like all things Boeing and others out there won't do that forever for obvious reasons.

Your missing the boat. Boeing didn't do this for free. They were under a Cost-Plus contract as part of Ares I development that had an end date NLT 30 Sep 2011. This was just one small contract that would cost just as much to complete as to cancel. All it would take to refocus was to change the nomenclature.

This contract was a technology proofing contract for manufactureing technology for making cryo tanks using modern practices which would really be applicable to anything using cryo propellants. The goals of such a contract was to gather data on the costs of the process, development of manufacturing procedures and to determine the quality of the resulting product.

Offline Chris Bergin

Thanks for the nice words about the article :)

Boeing has been a strong  advocate for building a heavy lift vehicle. I applaud their dedication towards moving HV development along-- despite the reluctance of the White House to seriously get going with its agreed commitment to  SLS program.

Marcel F. Williams

They are not advocates, just looking for a buck

All commercial companies - of which Boeing are one - are looking to create "bucks". However, I can say for a fact that the Boeing guys I know would completely disagree - and would feel insulted - by your representation with respect to this effort that they are "NOT" advocates and are "JUST" looking to make a buck.

I can also back that up with the facts of the article, which showed rather than banking the contacts and not doing any work with it on a cancelled program, they put it to good use, specifically for their efforts on SLS.


Online oldAtlas_Eguy

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Thanks Chris for clarification.

Offline DDG40

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Thanks Chris for showing that NASA is actually spending SLS funds on SLS tasks.

I noticed one thing that may have escaped most. That the core is not really going to be an modified ET but a modern tech tank and structure although the diameter is common to that of the ET so that the handling tooling is the same as what was used on the ET. The welding systems are being replaced to be able to use modern tank welding practices.

All of this points to a less expensive and less manpower intensive manufacturing of the core than what occurred on the ET. Also since the new processes are different any retained or rehired personnel would have to be trained on the new processes.

Boeing Michoud has hired most of Lockheed's ET weld engineering (they boast about this). The welder's are all ex Lockheed ET welders. Lockheed was already manufacturing a stir friction welded LH tank when production stopped. If the LO2 and LH2 horizontal weld fixture are brought on line the only people that know how to operate them will be Lockheed personnel.
This week the LH2 Weld fixture is being brought back on line for possible modification to stir friction operations.

Offline Jim

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Thanks for the nice words about the article :)

Boeing has been a strong  advocate for building a heavy lift vehicle. I applaud their dedication towards moving HV development along-- despite the reluctance of the White House to seriously get going with its agreed commitment to  SLS program.

Marcel F. Williams

They are not advocates, just looking for a buck

All commercial companies - of which Boeing are one - are looking to create "bucks". However, I can say for a fact that the Boeing guys I know would completely disagree - and would feel insulted - by your representation with respect to this effort that they are "NOT" advocates and are "JUST" looking to make a buck.

I can also back that up with the facts of the article, which showed rather than banking the contacts and not doing any work with it on a cancelled program, they put it to good use, specifically for their efforts on SLS.


Willams is not referring to the Michoud Boeing but the Boeing proposal for an SDLV that has standalone core.

Boeing is willing to build anything that NASA will pay for.  It doesn't mean that are advocating SDLV or HLV because it is the best way to advance the USA in spaceflight. They see a way to make money on SLS and so they are positioning themselves to get a part of it.
« Last Edit: 08/27/2011 08:19 PM by Jim »

Offline Prober

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Thanks Chris for showing that NASA is actually spending SLS funds on SLS tasks.


Just a point on this. There are no real SLS funds allocated. The delaying tactic from Bolden and company means they are trying to force the SLS funds into helping their commercial friends, who now apparently want more (so much for their projections).

Boeing and others are fighting back and spending their own time and  money to push this forward. This is clever as because of the delays by Bolden and company, money was wasted on the cancelled Constellation program. They have converted that contracted money into SLS work. A genius move.

And yes, Boeing are a commercial company, so this is very telling about the confidence in SLS. Look at their statements in Chris's very good article.

Well said, and very true.  However, for everyone else, like all things Boeing and others out there won't do that forever for obvious reasons.


This contract was a technology proofing contract for manufactureing technology for making cryo tanks using modern practices which would really be applicable to anything using cryo propellants. The goals of such a contract was to gather data on the costs of the process, development of manufacturing procedures and to determine the quality of the resulting product.

So we mightt see a paper on this manufacturing tech?   I know looking at the photos that they seem to be using the new equipment installed a couple of years ago.  Maybe for the first time?  Any more details would make for interesting reading.
 
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Offline Space Love 101

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Boeing has been a strong  advocate for building a heavy lift vehicle. I applaud their dedication towards moving HV development along-- despite the reluctance of the White House to seriously get going with its agreed commitment to  SLS program.

Marcel F. Williams

They are not advocates, just looking for a buck

You are not distinguishing between the corporate management of Boeing who makes the decision of where to spend money, and the Boeing employees who will actually do the work required for SLS. The latter are most definitely advocates.

It is these same advocates who have been working hard in such a way to put together a plan that corporate management is willing to invest their money and resources in. I will assume that your comment was not meant as an insult, but merely a statement of fact. However, it is not entirely correct.

Offline hydra9

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Boeing has been a strong  advocate for building a heavy lift vehicle. I applaud their dedication towards moving HV development along-- despite the reluctance of the White House to seriously get going with its agreed commitment to  SLS program.

Marcel F. Williams

They are not advocates, just looking for a buck

Why would a company in the space business want to make money:-)

The SLS will be good for NASA and also good for business. The SLS will allow companies like Bigelow  to launch their largest commercial space stations (BA-2100).  Go Boeing!

Marcel F. Williams

Offline hydra9

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[/quote]

Willams is not referring to the Michoud Boeing but the Boeing proposal for an SDLV that has standalone core.

Boeing is willing to build anything that NASA will pay for.  It doesn't mean that are advocating SDLV or HLV because it is the best way to advance the USA in spaceflight. They see a way to make money on SLS and so they are positioning themselves to get a part of it.
[/quote]

Even though a stand alone LOX/LH2 core vehicle makes sense as a cheaper and more expedient evolutionary first step towards an HLV, I'm not so sure if the current administration really wants a vehicle that justifies anything being commissioned by NASA  to be built. Because if you build it, you have to use it! And I see no evidence that the current administration wants NASA to conduct any serious manned missions within cis-lunar space in the near future.

Since the Obama administration really didn't want an HLV, the SLS is really a Congressional program. So I think its also going to be up to Congress to decide what missions the SLS will be used for within cis-lunar space since there is no enthusiasm in the White House to assign missions for a future SLS that they didn't want in the first place.

Marcel F. Williams


Offline Prober

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Thanks Chris for showing that NASA is actually spending SLS funds on SLS tasks.


Just a point on this. There are no real SLS funds allocated. The delaying tactic from Bolden and company means they are trying to force the SLS funds into helping their commercial friends, who now apparently want more (so much for their projections).

Boeing and others are fighting back and spending their own time and  money to push this forward. This is clever as because of the delays by Bolden and company, money was wasted on the cancelled Constellation program. They have converted that contracted money into SLS work. A genius move.

And yes, Boeing are a commercial company, so this is very telling about the confidence in SLS. Look at their statements in Chris's very good article.

Well said, and very true.  However, for everyone else, like all things Boeing and others out there won't do that forever for obvious reasons.


This contract was a technology proofing contract for manufactureing technology for making cryo tanks using modern practices which would really be applicable to anything using cryo propellants. The goals of such a contract was to gather data on the costs of the process, development of manufacturing procedures and to determine the quality of the resulting product.

So we mightt see a paper on this manufacturing tech?   I know looking at the photos that they seem to be using the new equipment installed a couple of years ago.  Maybe for the first time?  Any more details would make for interesting reading.
 
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=20983.msg564323#msg564323
 
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Offline Jim

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Even though a stand alone LOX/LH2 core vehicle makes sense as a cheaper and more expedient evolutionary first step towards an HLV,


No, it doesn't.  NASA doesn't have the missions or money for the added expenses to justify it nor would it be allowed per the law.
« Last Edit: 08/28/2011 01:56 PM by Jim »

Offline Fequalsma

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Chris –

Thanks for the interesting article.  Would you please provide a link to the Boeing overview mentioned below? 

“The pathfinder is also representative of a Liquid Oxygen tank that is extensible to the Space Launch System,” noted a Boeing overview (available on L2).

v/r,
F=ma

Offline Gary NASA

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This is great from Boeing.

Offline Chris Bergin

Writing another SLS article today. Again, mainly hardware related.

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Looking forward to it Chris!

Offline Chris Bergin

Another SLS article, with a home thread on the HLV section as it's nothing to do with politics :)

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2011/08/shuttle-donate-entire-mps-to-sls/

Offline DaveH62

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No Ed Kyle. There's the SLS Pathfinder LOX Tank. As much as you'd love Ares I to come back, this has been explained to you this is NOT Ares, this is for SLS, and was subscale for a reason.

NASA can call it whatever it wants to call it, but its real origin is quite clear.  It is 5.5 meters diameter, its plans and tooling having previously been devised for Ares I.  If it was a real SLS pathfinder tank, it would be 8.4 meters or whatever diameter.  Unless SLS is being shrunk down to 5.5 meters?

 - Ed Kyle

No, I think they were just saving money by using what was 'lying around', Ed. The next pathfinder tank should be 8.4m, unless the upper stage decision ends up being a clear derivative of the Ares 1 upper stage; perhaps lengthened slightly for more propellant for SLS' EDS duties.
Is there a potential that the upper stage would become 5.5 meters? If that did happen, what is the justification for the SLS? Couldn't Atlas, Delta or Falcon meet these objectives?
I'm not saying that is what is happening, but if it is under consideration, would there still be a justification for the SLS, considering there would be pre-existing options with far less up front costs and time to market.
Can anyone verify that 5.5 meters is not under consideration for the upper stage?

Offline Davinator

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Great run of SLS articles Chris. There really isn't any other media covering SLS as much as here. Aviation Week are the nearest, but they are mainly very short and more summaries. This is where the news is.

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Is there a potential that the upper stage would become 5.5 meters? If that did happen, what is the justification for the SLS? Couldn't Atlas, Delta or Falcon meet these objectives?

What objectives?  The Atlas, Delta, and Falcon first stages are all far too small to meet the SLS objectives no matter what the upper stage looks like.

I suspect the upper stage will be 8.4 m.  The tooling exists for that too, and it's much more mass/volume-efficient.  Also, we're not in a gigantic hurry re: the upper stage, so an optimal stage may be a better bet than a hack to appear to justify sunk costs.

Offline Mark S

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So what's the latest on the, quote (and I use that term lightly) "90-day report" unquote, from NASA to Congress regarding SLS? The last concrete news I heard was that the Senate committee had issued a subpoena for the report and all supporting documentation. Was the subpoena totally ignored, fully complied with, or something in between? I gather from hints and inferences that at least some attempt at making an appearance of some sort of compliance has been attempted, but to what level?

Is there any chance that the Administration will release this report before the first anniversary of the signing of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010?

I don't doubt Chris's sources or his conclusions about the SLS configuration, but it would be nice to have official confirmation from NASA.

This whole sad episode of the transition from Shuttle has been handled so completely poorly by so many people in so many ways for so long that it will surely be recorded as one of the lowest points in the annals of NASA history.
« Last Edit: 09/01/2011 02:49 PM by Mark S »


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