Author Topic: Who will compete with SpaceX? The last two and next two years.  (Read 149013 times)

Offline Coastal Ron

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Is ULA, by cutting so many personnel, setting itself up for a failure in the next year or so?

The next year or two I would say no from a customer demand standpoint (I have no idea about safety), since the U.S. Government still wants to rely on ULA as not only a sole source provider for some payloads, but also because the U.S. Government has a desire to keep competition now that it has it.

So for the next year or so ULA can depend on a certain level of customer demand. However once Atlas V and Delta IV M/H are gone, and Vulcan is the new launcher in the world, the question becomes whether they will be able to capture enough U.S. Government demand AND commercial customers to provide the profit level ULA's parents want.

And who knows, maybe by that point in time ULA's parents will be OK with negative profit. Or maybe not. But it's way too early to know, so sticking just to the next two years I think SpaceX will continue to keep making inroads into ULA's demand territory, although it may be slow progress due to the increasing requirements each level of payloads has.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline kaa

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The first Ariane 5 ECA launch failed (11 Dec 2002) so why does it have a reliability upper limit of 1 ?

Here are the 95% confidence intervals and point estimates for the reliability of several launch vehicles.  Generally the tighter confidence intervals correspond to more launches.  These statistics provide insight.  It can be said, for example, that the Merlin 1D-powered Falcon 9 is currently likely less reliable than Atlas 5 or Ariane 5 ECA, but there is a chance (because the intervals overlap the point estimates) that it could end up being as reliable as those launchers.  There is also a chance that it ends up in the Titan 4/Proton M/Briz M range. 

The calculations (using Adjusted Wald Method) come from this marvelous site:  https://measuringu.com/wald/

 - Ed Kyle

Online ChrisWilson68

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Here are the 95% confidence intervals and point estimates for the reliability of several launch vehicles.  Generally the tighter confidence intervals correspond to more launches.  These statistics provide insight.  It can be said, for example, that the Merlin 1D-powered Falcon 9 is currently likely less reliable than Atlas 5 or Ariane 5 ECA, but there is a chance (because the intervals overlap the point estimates) that it could end up being as reliable as those launchers.  There is also a chance that it ends up in the Titan 4/Proton M/Briz M range. 

The calculations (using Adjusted Wald Method) come from this marvelous site:  https://measuringu.com/wald/

Sad.  It's been pointed out before on these threads multiple times to Ed that this is a misapplication of statistics, but he keeps energetically re-posting the nonsense.

These statistical models are based on assumptions that are wildly unrealistic for rockets, including an assumption about the prior distribution of reliability levels and an assumption that the reliability doesn't change over time (i.e. that nobody ever learns from a failure or fixes the root cause of that failure).

Blindly plugging in a formula where it doesn't apply does not give valid results.

Offline edkyle99

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Here are the 95% confidence intervals and point estimates for the reliability of several launch vehicles.  Generally the tighter confidence intervals correspond to more launches.  These statistics provide insight.  It can be said, for example, that the Merlin 1D-powered Falcon 9 is currently likely less reliable than Atlas 5 or Ariane 5 ECA, but there is a chance (because the intervals overlap the point estimates) that it could end up being as reliable as those launchers.  There is also a chance that it ends up in the Titan 4/Proton M/Briz M range. 

The calculations (using Adjusted Wald Method) come from this marvelous site:  https://measuringu.com/wald/

Sad.  It's been pointed out before on these threads multiple times to Ed that this is a misapplication of statistics, but he keeps energetically re-posting the nonsense.

These statistical models are based on assumptions that are wildly unrealistic for rockets, including an assumption about the prior distribution of reliability levels and an assumption that the reliability doesn't change over time (i.e. that nobody ever learns from a failure or fixes the root cause of that failure).

Blindly plugging in a formula where it doesn't apply does not give valid results.

The models do adjust for changing reliability, based on the actual performance of the launch system over time.  The prior distribution mean is assumed to be 0.5 for a new launch vehicle, which I believe to be quite reasonable.  There have been, for example, three launch vehicle inaugurals this year (Electron, SS-520, and KT-2), of which two have failed.   

We know these are rough estimates, especially at low launch numbers.  What are the alternatives?  NASA used complex systems analysis statistics to prove something like a 1 in 1,000 failure rate for STS before Challenger, at the same time that Adjusted-Wald suggested a failure rate of 3 or 4 out of 100 was possible.  At program's end, STS had suffered three launch failures in 135 flights.

I know of at least one instance where fixing the root cause of one failure created a subsequent failure.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 09/04/2017 02:00 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline edkyle99

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The first Ariane 5 ECA launch failed (11 Dec 2002) so why does it have a reliability upper limit of 1 ?
The actual number is 0.99-something.  The reason is that this is a projection of a range of likely reliability for the next launch.

 - Ed Kyle

Offline Jimmy Murdok

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Here are the 95% confidence intervals and point estimates for the reliability of several launch vehicles.  Generally the tighter confidence intervals correspond to more launches.  These statistics provide insight.  It can be said, for example, that the Merlin 1D-powered Falcon 9 is currently likely less reliable than Atlas 5 or Ariane 5 ECA, but there is a chance (because the intervals overlap the point estimates) that it could end up being as reliable as those launchers.  There is also a chance that it ends up in the Titan 4/Proton M/Briz M range. 

The calculations (using Adjusted Wald Method) come from this marvelous site:  https://measuringu.com/wald/

Sad.  It's been pointed out before on these threads multiple times to Ed that this is a misapplication of statistics, but he keeps energetically re-posting the nonsense.

These statistical models are based on assumptions that are wildly unrealistic for rockets, including an assumption about the prior distribution of reliability levels and an assumption that the reliability doesn't change over time (i.e. that nobody ever learns from a failure or fixes the root cause of that failure).

Blindly plugging in a formula where it doesn't apply does not give valid results.

Well, it's simple formula, an approximation to reality. But do the job and it is clearly exposed. Do not pretend to be otherwise. You can add other factors on top of that, but will be difficult to keep apples to apples. SpaceX is adding new features every flight and constantly increasing the risk --> subcooled propellant caused last explosion and decreasing risk by experience, so outcome is difficult to evaluate. Their failures are recent so they have to be considered. In Russia they have a good history of loosing reliability over time. With enough flights and no failures F9 will shorten the bar end increase reliability over Atlas. At some point in the future you can show the calculations with Block V and go for clean sheet, but will stay as stable as Atlas or Ariane with only minor tweaks?

Do you have a better alternative?

Online AncientU

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The statistical method provided by Ed has value, just must be careful to avoid using it as an absolute predictor.  The perfect Atlas V record to date doesn't say the next launch won't be a failure -- it does say that such a failure is less likely statistically than a failure on the next Falcon or Proton launch. 

Let's avoid the naive thinking that quantifying something statistically is any kind of final/solid answer.
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Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Is ULA, by cutting so many personnel, setting itself up for a failure in the next year or so?
Not likely. ULA less personnel though does mean for less scheduling flexibility since more personnel may be shared between launch pads and even east/west coast sites. Less people "sitting on their hands" drawing the "subsidy" because there will no longer be the "subsidy". This then may make scheduling launches on both coasts with close to same dates not possible.
This article makes my point.
http://spacenews.com/cape-canaveral-facilities-prepare-for-hurricane-irma/

ULA slip launch on west coast because it was sharing personnel from the east coast.

Online AncientU

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Is ULA, by cutting so many personnel, setting itself up for a failure in the next year or so?
Not likely. ULA less personnel though does mean for less scheduling flexibility since more personnel may be shared between launch pads and even east/west coast sites. Less people "sitting on their hands" drawing the "subsidy" because there will no longer be the "subsidy". This then may make scheduling launches on both coasts with close to same dates not possible.
This article makes my point.
http://spacenews.com/cape-canaveral-facilities-prepare-for-hurricane-irma/

ULA slip launch on west coast because it was sharing personnel from the east coast.

From another thread:

Question: Isn't ULA required to maintain a two-coast launch capability as funded under ELC contract?  They appear to have cut manning so severely that any slip becomes a two-coast domino effect...

From Tory Bruno last year:
Quote
There has been a tremendous amount of rhetoric and misinformation regarding a contract my company has with the Air Force, commonly referred to as “ELC.” The Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Launch Capability contract ensures safe, reliable and on-time launch services for our country’s most critical national security space satellites.

...

ELC has very specific scope. As I said, it transports the boosters to the launch site.  It assembles them together and mates the satellite. ELC maintains, prepares and refurbishes the pad, which takes a beating with every launch. It buys the rocket fuel, pays the range fees, and rolls us out to the pad. ELC pays for my engineers who design a unique trajectory for every flight and for my mission assurance team who scrub and scrutinize every part on the rocket, as well as every line of software to make sure our mission success record continues. It pays for the team you see in mission control making the big moment happen, as well as the labs and infrastructure that allows all of them to do their jobs.

...
The Government Accountability Office has certified that this two-prong approach has avoided launch delays and will save taxpayers $4.4 billion.
emphasis mine

Anyway, the potential slips from unanticipated events (Boeing damaging an antenna on TDRSS-M causing knock-on launch schedule slips, Irma delaying a west coast launch and potentialls other subsequent launches, etc.) will not improve their competitive position WRT SpaceX.  The smooth OTV-5 launch ahead of Irma's arrival might have some asking why the USAF is paying so much more for traditional rides..
« Last Edit: 09/09/2017 12:47 PM by AncientU »
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
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Online AncientU

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Ariane reports a total (multi-year) manifest of 17 flights for Ariane V.
Two left this year for a total of six, seven next year, eight in out years.

Planning a capability of 11-12 Ariane 6 launches per year.


From Ariane thread:
http://www.arianespace.com/press-release/arianespace-announces-two-new-launches-bringing-its-order-book-to-53-launches-17-for-ariane-5-27-with-soyuz-and-nine-utilizing-vegavega-c/

Quote
The VA239 mission for Intelsat 37e and BSAT 4a, currently scheduled as from September 29.
« Last Edit: 09/11/2017 05:08 PM by AncientU »
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
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Offline MichaelBlackbourn

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This just crossed my Twitter feed.... Interesting design...

https://www.chinaspaceflight.com/satellite/Linkspace/Linkspace.html

Online SmallKing

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This just crossed my Twitter feed.... Interesting design...

https://www.chinaspaceflight.com/satellite/Linkspace/Linkspace.html
Just a concept. That small company has no funds, no technology, no debut launch date...
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Offline Coastal Ron

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This just crossed my Twitter feed.... Interesting design...

https://www.chinaspaceflight.com/satellite/Linkspace/Linkspace.html

Looks like a small-sat launcher, so not a direct competitor to SpaceX. But from an industry standpoint, it's good to see there is some copying starting to happen.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline MichaelBlackbourn

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Yeah. From 'thats impossible' to 'of course your startup rocket design has legs' in a handful of years.   Pretty cool.

Offline Barrie

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Reminds me of Elon Musk saying there was no point patenting anything...

Offline Lar

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To a certain extent this is what Elon wanted, except maybe starting with the US...
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
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Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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But in order to stay ahead of the copy cats he has to keep innovating and producing even cheaper access to space LVs.

Correct, Elon has started a disruption in the normal way of business for the LV industry.

Offline matthewkantar

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It will be very interesting to see how the followers do with booster landings. New Shepard landings look fuel inefficient, but have the potential to be improved incrementally. Upstarts beginning from scratch have the benefit of knowing it can be done but not much more.

Matthew

Offline Jim

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Anyway, the potential slips from unanticipated events (Boeing damaging an antenna on TDRSS-M causing knock-on launch schedule slips, Irma delaying a west coast launch and potentialls other subsequent launches, etc.) will not improve their competitive position WRT SpaceX. 


Not at all.  Only a biased person would think so.

The smooth OTV-5 launch ahead of Irma's arrival might have some asking why the USAF is paying so much more for traditional rides..


Again, not at all.  No need to make such posts.
« Last Edit: 09/16/2017 06:33 PM by Jim »

Online Semmel

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[...]
Not at all.  Only a biased person would think so.
[...]
Again, not at all.  No need to make such posts.

Welcome back :)

On a more on topic note.. I agree with you on the rocket related statements. These are just little things that dont count much by it self. If they create a trend that may change. I dont think that would happen though. ULA will not become notoriously slippy and SpaceX will not conduct cowboy launches just before Hurricanes.. for the lack of Hurricanes.

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