Author Topic: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher  (Read 310840 times)

Offline IslandPlaya

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #20 on: 07/30/2014 01:59 PM »
Yea... I am not convinced. Why did they opt to gimbal their engines? Because SpaceX does it? My hunch tells me that they can save a lot of weight by opting to do vector control with differential throttling instead. Get rid of the hydraulic system and piping. At least just for the first stage.

The picture clearly shows a turbopump exhaust on each engine. Why not save that weight and do what the Russians do? Surely they don't need a turbopump for each chamber. Yea, they are touting the engine out capability.

http://www.rocketlabusa.com/about-us/propulsion/rutherford/

Quote
A single Rutherford engine pumps rocket-grade kerosene and liquid oxygen from the low pressure tanks into the combustion chamber producing 13.3 kilonewtons of thrust at lift-off.  The regeneratively cooled engine passes the kerosene through channels in the chamber walls, allowing Rutherford to run at temperatures far beyond its melting point and at a significantly higher efficiency.
Electronís propulsion workhorse is the Rutherford rocket engine. Rutherford is the embodiment of power and efficiency; it is the key driver behind Rocket Labís ability to provide high-frequency, low-cost launches.
 
Electron uses two variants of the Rutherford engine, a sea level and a vacuum engine. The vacuum variant differs only in nozzle shape, which is tailored to suit the vacuum conditions outside Earthís atmosphere. The duplicate engine design for both stages makes Electron highly optimized for mass production.
With nine Rutherford engines on the first stage, Electron can sustain a complete engine loss before launch and still complete its mission, making it one of few launch vehicles with such capability.
The engine is named after the famous New Zealand born physicist Ernest Rutherford.
I don't think differential throttling has the response time to maintain control in this case.
Also it would break the engine out capability.

Offline edkyle99

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #21 on: 07/30/2014 09:37 PM »
The web page talks about being innovative, but doesn't mention anything innovative about their approach.  It seems to me they're somewhere behind Firefly and ahead of ARCA on the plausibility scale for groups trying to make it in the ultra-light-weight orbital launch business.
No one has yet launched an all-composite liquid fueled launch vehicle to orbit.  There's the innovation.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 07/30/2014 09:38 PM by edkyle99 »

Online hop

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #22 on: 07/31/2014 02:10 AM »
Their recent projects section mentions the "Ātea 1" sounding rocket: http://www.rocketlabusa.com/about-us/recent-projects/atea-1/
Quote
Ātea-1 is a two-stage sub-orbital vehicle capable of carrying payloads of 2 kg up to 150 km altitude. This launch vehicle is able to provide the international science community with a quick-response, mobile launch solution, with a focus on flexibility and rapid turnaround.
Does anyone know if it has flown since the test flight in 2009?

Offline QuantumG

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #23 on: 07/31/2014 02:18 AM »
Ātea hasn't. They moved on to their VLM work, and now Electron.

I'm listening to this podcast (RocketLab section starts about half way through). Peter Beck talks about launching weekly / 50 launches per year. When asked about reusability he says "we'll try to reuse whatever we can, it'd be stupid not to". Clearly not the critical path right now.

Here's some pictures from the VIP event. Not much to see.
« Last Edit: 07/31/2014 03:32 AM by QuantumG »
Jeff Bezos has billions to spend on rockets and can go at whatever pace he likes! Wow! What pace is he going at? Well... have you heard of Zeno's paradox?

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #24 on: 07/31/2014 05:04 AM »
Interesting photo on the scale of the Rutherford engine from Rocket Lab press photo on Doug Messier's Parabolic web site. link That is Peter Beck founder & CEO of Rocket Lab standing next to the Electron core, reminisce of Elon Musk next to his Falcon 1 photo.

Question. If the Electron core is 1 m diameter, can anyone estimate the nozzle diameter of the Rutherford engine? I think it about 18 cm from looking at the photo.

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #25 on: 07/31/2014 05:59 AM »
The podcast was a good find.

We now know primary launch site is NZ and it is designed for our windy conditions. I' m guessing the launch site will be in northland as it's airspace has low air traffic and is only a few hours drive from factory. Trucking a few tonnes of LOX up country shouldn' t be a problem.

There is no current serious competition in this LV category.

At present cubesats have to go where ever the primary payload is going. With Electron's 3rd stage they can place each individual cubesat exactly.  The cubesat will also have more options for its own propulsion system/ fuel.


Offline QuantumG

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #26 on: 07/31/2014 06:50 AM »
110 kg is a "small sat", not a cubesat.
Jeff Bezos has billions to spend on rockets and can go at whatever pace he likes! Wow! What pace is he going at? Well... have you heard of Zeno's paradox?

Offline Llian Rhydderch

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #27 on: 07/31/2014 06:58 AM »
110 kg is a "small sat", not a cubesat.

Agreed.  It's at least 10x a nanosat, which is about what most 1U to 3U cubesats mass out at.

I think 110 kg may be used to be called a minisat (larger than microsat at 10-100 kg), but I'm not sure those names ever caught on, except for nanosat (1-10 kg).
Re arguments from authority on NSF:  "no one is exempt from error, and errors of authority are usually the worst kind.  Taking your word for things without question is no different than a bracket design not being tested because the designer was an old hand."
"You would actually save yourself time and effort if you were to use evidence and logic to make your points instead of wrapping yourself in the royal mantle of authority.  The approach only works on sheep, not inquisitive, intelligent people."

Offline fatjohn1408

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #28 on: 07/31/2014 08:27 AM »
So did the Atea 2 project die then?

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #29 on: 07/31/2014 09:21 AM »
You are right in that a single 110kg satellite is called a small sat, but I'm picking the majority of its payloads will be launches of multiple cubesats using a dispenser.

These are two direct competitors, there may be more.
Virgin's launcher is also rated at 100kg to Sun synchronous LEO and is priced at < $10m.

Firefly alpha is in slightly different class of 400kg LEO, price is $8m.

http://www.virgingalactic.com/launcherOne/performance-and-specification/

http://www.fireflyspace.com/vehicles/firefly-a
« Last Edit: 07/31/2014 10:07 AM by TrevorMonty »

Offline QuantumG

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #30 on: 07/31/2014 10:01 AM »
So did the Atea 2 project die then?

I don't remember hearing anything about it. Source?
Jeff Bezos has billions to spend on rockets and can go at whatever pace he likes! Wow! What pace is he going at? Well... have you heard of Zeno's paradox?

Offline xanmarus

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #31 on: 07/31/2014 10:05 AM »
Interesting photo on the scale of the Rutherford engine from Rocket Lab press photo on Doug Messier's Parabolic web site. That is Peter Beck founder & CEO of Rocket Lab standing next to the Electron core, reminisce of Elon Musk next to his Falcon 1 photo.
I'm wondering, is Rutherford stage combustion engine? I don't see any turbine exhaust nozzle on that picture.

Offline QuantumG

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #32 on: 07/31/2014 11:46 AM »
Interesting photo on the scale of the Rutherford engine from Rocket Lab press photo on Doug Messier's Parabolic web site. That is Peter Beck founder & CEO of Rocket Lab standing next to the Electron core, reminisce of Elon Musk next to his Falcon 1 photo.
I'm wondering, is Rutherford stage combustion engine? I don't see any turbine exhaust nozzle on that picture.

Kerolox staged combustion? Pretty unlikely.
« Last Edit: 07/31/2014 11:46 AM by QuantumG »
Jeff Bezos has billions to spend on rockets and can go at whatever pace he likes! Wow! What pace is he going at? Well... have you heard of Zeno's paradox?

Offline baldusi

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #33 on: 07/31/2014 01:29 PM »
Interesting photo on the scale of the Rutherford engine from Rocket Lab press photo on Doug Messier's Parabolic web site. link That is Peter Beck founder & CEO of Rocket Lab standing next to the Electron core, reminisce of Elon Musk next to his Falcon 1 photo.

Question. If the Electron core is 1 m diameter, can anyone estimate the nozzle diameter of the Rutherford engine? I think it about 18 cm from looking at the photo.
No downcomers, no hold downs, no connectors. It just seems like an engineering article. There's something that just seems too plain. Actual flight hardware has access doors, connectors for fluids, electricity and communications, mechanical hold downs, a couple of tubes for data  wires and pressurization gases, etc.

Offline dchill

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #34 on: 07/31/2014 03:12 PM »
We now know primary launch site is NZ and it is designed for our windy conditions. I' m guessing the launch site will be in northland as it's airspace has low air traffic and is only a few hours drive from factory. Trucking a few tonnes of LOX up country shouldn' t be a problem.

Looks like one of the Seminar notices on the GNC system is talking about a Birdling's Flat location:
<<https://www.facebook.com/DepartmentOfElectricalAndComputerEngineering/posts/505832642813622>>

Offline Proponent

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #35 on: 07/31/2014 06:34 PM »
If I were going to name a Kiwi rocket engine, I think I'd call it Pickering.

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #36 on: 07/31/2014 06:58 PM »
If I were going to name a Kiwi rocket engine, I think I'd call it Pickering.

Not a very sexy name for a rocket but they may name a future engine after him.

Offline strangequark

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #37 on: 07/31/2014 07:10 PM »
I'm wondering, is Rutherford stage combustion engine? I don't see any turbine exhaust nozzle on that picture.

Like others have said, probably a mockup. Can't discount expander either. We've been finicky about it, but it can be done with LOX, or with third fluid cooling. Actually, most of the reason RP-1 exists is for its use as a coolant. Use something else for cooling, and you could use a far more mundane kerosene.

Looks like the chamber is DMLS-made, from their closeup photo. That contour is bizarre too, curious what's going on there. Maybe it's just the volute for the cooling jacket and the closeup makes it looks weird?
« Last Edit: 07/31/2014 07:26 PM by strangequark »
Don't flippantly discount the old rules of this industry. Behind each one lies a painful lesson learned from broken, twisted hardware. Learn those lessons, and respect the knowledge gained from them. Only then, see if you can write new rules that will meet those challenges.

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #38 on: 07/31/2014 11:51 PM »
Interesting photo on the scale of the Rutherford engine from Rocket Lab press photo on Doug Messier's Parabolic web site. That is Peter Beck founder & CEO of Rocket Lab standing next to the Electron core, reminisce of Elon Musk next to his Falcon 1 photo.
I'm wondering, is Rutherford stage combustion engine? I don't see any turbine exhaust nozzle on that picture.
I read somewhere on their site the Rutherford got channel wall on the nozzle for kerosene flow for cooling. Maybe for turbine exhaust as well. Doubt the Rutherford is a stage combustion engine, don't think there is space above the combustion chambers for SC plumbing for 9 engines.
« Last Edit: 07/31/2014 11:56 PM by Zed_Noir »

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: RocketLab Electron Smallsat Launcher
« Reply #39 on: 07/31/2014 11:51 PM »
Interesting photo on the scale of the Rutherford engine from Rocket Lab press photo on Doug Messier's Parabolic web site. link That is Peter Beck founder & CEO of Rocket Lab standing next to the Electron core, reminisce of Elon Musk next to his Falcon 1 photo.

Question. If the Electron core is 1 m diameter, can anyone estimate the nozzle diameter of the Rutherford engine? I think it about 18 cm from looking at the photo.
No downcomers, no hold downs, no connectors. It just seems like an engineering article. There's something that just seems too plain. Actual flight hardware has access doors, connectors for fluids, electricity and communications, mechanical hold downs, a couple of tubes for data  wires and pressurization gases, etc.
It is a composite structure. Maybe all the connections are on the side away from the camera view. After all this is a publicity photo. It could also be a mock-up.

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