Author Topic: NASA seeks to boost Mars communication network ahead of human missions  (Read 13407 times)

Online dkovacic

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A few notes:

There is a laser retroreflector on Schiaparelli, the lander of Exomars 2016. MarCO was not launched because it was supposed to go along with InSight. As per the April 2016 von Karman lecture, given by MarCO's builder, it will launch in 2018 with InSight.

NASA is willing to take risk especially if it is not mission critical or if the payoff is big. New Horizons and the Europa Mission have quite a bit of risk, in the first case of hibernation and having the primary mission 9 years after launch, in the latter with going to a very radiation intolerant region. In both cases they minimized risk by selecting mature scientific instruments. I do see SMD willing to take on some risk in the form of novel scientific instruments. I do not see them though taking the risk of an unproven satellite maker. So far almost all space probes have been built by Lockheed Martin which purposely bids at slightly above cost because they use the space probes as recruiting tools for aerospace engineering graduates. They make their money mostly off DoD/NRO birds. Orbital was willing to forgo profit to get Dawn and access to its ion engine technology. If one of the other satellite vendors, old and new, can produce a bird with low risk and have a cost structure lower than LM or Orbital ATK, they are free to bid. It is one thing to build an ISS launched microsatellite that will burn up in 7 months anyway and another thing altogether a probe that we want to last 15 years and design in any case for a minimum of 5
In this light, adding optical comm similar to LLCD satisfies both requirements: it is not mission critical and potential payoff is big. And just imagine the public relations effect if NASA would have capability to live-stream HD quality video of Mars 2020 rover EDL and initial checkout on the surface. Seven minutes of terror on Mars, broadcasting live on your favourite TV network.
« Last Edit: 04/27/2016 03:24 AM by dkovacic »

Online savuporo

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More on NeMO AO

http://nasawatch.com/archives/2016/05/next-mars-orbit.html
http://images.spaceref.com/news/2016/NeMOIndustryDay.pdf

Quote
"Proposers must meet the following mandatory qualifications by time of award in order to be considered a qualified source and thereby eligible for award.
- MQ 1: Within the last 10 years, the proposer shall have successfully developed and flown a spacecraft with a solar power system of at least 10KW at 1 AU.
- MQ 2: Within the last 5 years, the proposer shall have successfully developed and flown a spacecraft that operated in deep space (beyond Earth orbit) or geosynchronous orbit (GEO).
- MQ 3: The proposer (both the prime contractor and its major lower-tier subcontractors for this effort) shall be a concern incorporated in the United States of America."
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Offline AegeanBlue

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I see America's partners offering tons of instruments to go with the platform. While for other mission they just had to push for a single instrument or two, in this case we have an entire spacecraft with high power and communications margins that will notionally only carry one instrument, the imager. I see the national agencies of Europe, and potentially Japan (though probably not Russia) offering to pay for a few instruments to round up the mission.

Also the three requirements mean that CommX will not be able to bid, as expected

Online Zed_Noir

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...
Also the three requirements mean that CommX will not be able to bid, as expected

Maybe a CommX orbiter will show up anyway. As tech demonstrator and to support their announced 2018 mission.

Offline Robotbeat

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10kW at 1AU seems like a not-very-fair constraint designed to keep it to the aerospace primes... I mean, what if it's a 7kW GSO satellite? Why would a company capable of that not be considered?
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Online savuporo

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10kW at 1AU seems like a not-very-fair constraint designed to keep it to the aerospace primes..

You mean four out of five world leaders of commercial satellite manufacturing industry ? Industry that generates about $16 billion a year in revenues and competes about 25 GSO contracts every year ?
Not sure whats so unfair about this.
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Offline Robotbeat

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10kW at 1AU seems like a not-very-fair constraint designed to keep it to the aerospace primes..

You mean four out of five world leaders of commercial satellite manufacturing industry ? Industry that generates about $16 billion a year in revenues and competes about 25 GSO contracts every year ?
Not sure whats so unfair about this.
Smaller sat builders should be allowed to at least be considered.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline Star One

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10kW at 1AU seems like a not-very-fair constraint designed to keep it to the aerospace primes..

You mean four out of five world leaders of commercial satellite manufacturing industry ? Industry that generates about $16 billion a year in revenues and competes about 25 GSO contracts every year ?
Not sure whats so unfair about this.
Smaller sat builders should be allowed to at least be considered.
Why should they, you go with people who know how to build this kind of craft and do it well all the time, there is no room for sentimentality about the little guy on such an important mission.
« Last Edit: 05/06/2016 06:03 AM by Star One »

Online savuporo

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10kW at 1AU seems like a not-very-fair constraint designed to keep it to the aerospace primes..

You mean four out of five world leaders of commercial satellite manufacturing industry ? Industry that generates about $16 billion a year in revenues and competes about 25 GSO contracts every year ?
Not sure whats so unfair about this.
Smaller sat builders should be allowed to at least be considered.

Why ? All of the major satellite manufacturers have recently started providing electric propulsion platforms for GSO comsats, hybrids with electric stationkeeping only and also full electric ones. This is the technology foundation that JPL aims to utilize here - maybe. The payload power, total mass, lifetime, operating environment, and other requirements are well in line with smaller modernized electric propulsion GSO birds.

You could also ask ACME Cubesats & Party Balloons but why would you ask for the extra overhead of not qualified proposals in an already compressed schedule and provided you already have four well qualified commercial, competitive vendors ?

That doesnt seem to make much sense
Orion - the first and only manned not-too-deep-space craft

Offline Star One

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10kW at 1AU seems like a not-very-fair constraint designed to keep it to the aerospace primes..

You mean four out of five world leaders of commercial satellite manufacturing industry ? Industry that generates about $16 billion a year in revenues and competes about 25 GSO contracts every year ?
Not sure whats so unfair about this.
Smaller sat builders should be allowed to at least be considered.

Why ? All of the major satellite manufacturers have recently started providing electric propulsion platforms for GSO comsats, hybrids with electric stationkeeping only and also full electric ones. This is the technology foundation that JPL aims to utilize here - maybe. The payload power, total mass, lifetime, operating environment, and other requirements are well in line with smaller modernized electric propulsion GSO birds.

You could also ask ACME Cubesats & Party Balloons but why would you ask for the extra overhead of not qualified proposals in an already compressed schedule and provided you already have four well qualified commercial, competitive vendors ?

That doesnt seem to make much sense
Precisely you're looking to decrease risk not increase it by using some small company just for the sake of it.

Offline Robotbeat

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Larger firms can have other risks, too. I just don't think that 10kW should be this hard and fast requirement, it seems like a somewhat arbitrary cut-off value designed to cull the list of viable bidders to a certain list of firms. It should be considered under risk, but it shouldn't just exclude from consideration any potential providers who may have an otherwise extremely strong bid.

But you know, that's just crazy talk from someone who has had to evaluate bids (of a different type) before.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Online savuporo

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Larger firms can have other risks, too...
Yeah and in this case Lloyd's will tell you precisely what the risk is depending on manufacturer and satellite bus being used. You don't even need a contrived probabilistic risk assessment with a thumb on the scale. They call it Realistic Disaster Scenario evaluation and keep very close track of every type of subsystem failure ever occurred on GSO birds, too.

This is commercial market with hundreds of millions at stake in every contract, where money doesn't come free.

For every new platform or even a significant  technological evolution of one your insurance rates ( aka, risk) will go through the roof until proven.
« Last Edit: 05/07/2016 04:23 AM by savuporo »
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Offline Lar

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10kW at 1AU seems like a not-very-fair constraint designed to keep it to the aerospace primes..

You mean four out of five world leaders of commercial satellite manufacturing industry ? Industry that generates about $16 billion a year in revenues and competes about 25 GSO contracts every year ?
Not sure whats so unfair about this.
Smaller sat builders should be allowed to at least be considered.

Why ? All of the major satellite manufacturers have recently started providing electric propulsion platforms for GSO comsats, hybrids with electric stationkeeping only and also full electric ones. This is the technology foundation that JPL aims to utilize here - maybe. The payload power, total mass, lifetime, operating environment, and other requirements are well in line with smaller modernized electric propulsion GSO birds.

You could also ask ACME Cubesats & Party Balloons but why would you ask for the extra overhead of not qualified proposals in an already compressed schedule and provided you already have four well qualified commercial, competitive vendors ?

That doesnt seem to make much sense

Agree with Robotbeat. Just because you have five large conglomerate oldline vendors who are competitive with each other does not mean that there isn't a builder out there that has a radically different approach that would come in for a lot less

This seems wired to the primes. And that's just wrong, prima facie... (either you get this or you don't, it's philosophy so not really refutable)
"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
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Online savuporo

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Agree with Robotbeat. Just because you have five large conglomerate oldline vendors who are competitive with each other does not mean that there isn't a builder out there that has a radically different approach that would come in for a lot less..

If you had a radically different approach to building GSO comsats or delivering equivalent capability, every satellite operator would be banging on your door and you'd quickly own a good slice of the global $16 billion satellite manufacturing industry revenue. Satellite operators are in this after all to deliver services to their customers and make money, as well. Thats how market works.

And it's not like there arent innovative smaller satellite builders out there, like Surrey or Dauria. They all have their niches and they keep building up their capabilities incrementally and prove their products, but they aren't consitently winning hundreds of millions of dollars worth of contracts for GSO deliveries every year for a good reason.
« Last Edit: 05/07/2016 07:04 AM by savuporo »
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Offline guckyfan

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If you had a radically different approach to building GSO comsats or delivering equivalent capability, every satellite operator would be banging on your door and you'd quickly own a good slice of the global $16 billion satellite manufacturing industry revenue. Satellite operators are in this after all to deliver services to their customers and make money, as well. Thats how market works.

And it's not like there arent innovative smaller satellite builders out there, like Surrey or Dauria. They all have their niches and they keep building up their capabilities incrementally and prove their products, but they aren't consitently winning hundreds of millions of dollars worth of contracts for GSO deliveries every year for a good reason.

So if they can't offer anyway then why explicitly exclude them?

Online savuporo

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So if they can't offer anyway then why explicitly exclude them?

Why does anyone ever require qualifications from proposing vendors ? Simple answer is overhead and liabilities. You don't want every crazy uncle to submit his flying saucer plans, and then later be in court explaining why calling them kooks is actually justified.
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Offline Star One

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10kW at 1AU seems like a not-very-fair constraint designed to keep it to the aerospace primes..

You mean four out of five world leaders of commercial satellite manufacturing industry ? Industry that generates about $16 billion a year in revenues and competes about 25 GSO contracts every year ?
Not sure whats so unfair about this.
Smaller sat builders should be allowed to at least be considered.

Why ? All of the major satellite manufacturers have recently started providing electric propulsion platforms for GSO comsats, hybrids with electric stationkeeping only and also full electric ones. This is the technology foundation that JPL aims to utilize here - maybe. The payload power, total mass, lifetime, operating environment, and other requirements are well in line with smaller modernized electric propulsion GSO birds.

You could also ask ACME Cubesats & Party Balloons but why would you ask for the extra overhead of not qualified proposals in an already compressed schedule and provided you already have four well qualified commercial, competitive vendors ?

That doesnt seem to make much sense

Agree with Robotbeat. Just because you have five large conglomerate oldline vendors who are competitive with each other does not mean that there isn't a builder out there that has a radically different approach that would come in for a lot less

This seems wired to the primes. And that's just wrong, prima facie... (either you get this or you don't, it's philosophy so not really refutable)
And if you're going to drag philosophy into this,  just because they are primes does not automatically make them bad choices, they are primes for a reason.
« Last Edit: 05/07/2016 07:40 AM by Star One »

Offline guckyfan

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And if you're going to drag philosophy into this,  just because they are primes does not automatically make them bad choices, they are primes for a reason.

It also does not make someone else automatically a bad choice.

Offline Jim

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This seems wired to the primes. And that's just wrong, prima facie... (either you get this or you don't, it's philosophy so not really refutable)

It is refutable.  It is far from wrong, and it actually the right thing to do.  It is Basic Procurement 101.  You buy things from companies with qualifications and experience.   This is not a procurement to build experience and capabilities like COTS or LDSD.  This is just like launch vehicle certification.   Just as Antares and Falcon could not launch NASA spacecraft on their earlier missions, a novice spacecraft developer is not going a piece of crucial infrastructure for NASA.  There are other bones that can be thrown to startups, see http://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-awards-venture-class-launch-services-contracts-for-cubesat-satellites
« Last Edit: 05/07/2016 12:45 PM by Jim »

Offline Jim

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So if they can't offer anyway then why explicitly exclude them?

To reduce the number of proposals that have to be evaluated.  That is a big cost in itself.

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