Author Topic: Solid Propellant Industrial Base  (Read 9603 times)

Offline Kabloona

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #20 on: 06/24/2017 01:38 AM »
Isn't there a law against using most of the surplus solids for orbital launch, so they won't compete with our thriving small launcher industry?
No the law (rules) predates thriving small launcher industry and prevents their use for all commercial flights which is why Castor-120 based Taurus and Pegasus came about.

I think you mean Minotaur. Pegasus doesn't use Gov't surplus motors, though it did benefit from Hercules' Small ICBM program technology that Hercules put into developing the Pegasus motors.
read the bold properly

sorry, got your meaning now.

Offline Kabloona

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #21 on: 06/24/2017 01:42 AM »

None of these scale well with solid motors, and actually raise more safety issues. Outside of air launch systems, where the risks as a munition can be managed by existing protocols and flight from managed bases, there's not a lot of opportunities for a manifest.

So with the top of the launch services pyramid eroding for solids, and the bottom under attack shortly, there's a circumscribed future back to munitions delivery systems.

Past NGL, don't see much on the horizon.

Which is another reason for the Pentagon to be concerned about the solids industrial base, and all the more reason to force OA et alia to buy local.
« Last Edit: 06/24/2017 01:50 AM by Kabloona »

Offline Lars-J

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #22 on: 06/24/2017 02:32 AM »
If Pentagon is really concerned about the solids industrial base, the obvious answer is staring them in the face. Spread out procurement to smaller contracts awarded more often. Downsizing for contractors is OK...

Offline russianhalo117

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #23 on: 06/24/2017 02:37 AM »

None of these scale well with solid motors, and actually raise more safety issues. Outside of air launch systems, where the risks as a munition can be managed by existing protocols and flight from managed bases, there's not a lot of opportunities for a manifest.

So with the top of the launch services pyramid eroding for solids, and the bottom under attack shortly, there's a circumscribed future back to munitions delivery systems.

Past NGL, don't see much on the horizon.

Which is another reason for the Pentagon to be concerned about the solids industrial base, and all the more reason to force OA et alia to buy local.
ATK tried to buy the Pepcon in the early 90s but was denied on anti-trust regs

Offline Kabloona

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #24 on: 06/24/2017 03:04 AM »
If Pentagon is really concerned about the solids industrial base, the obvious answer is staring them in the face. Spread out procurement to smaller contracts awarded more often. Downsizing for contractors is OK...

Well, then it costs them (and us taxpayers) more, and it's difficult to spread out the really big procurements like ICBMS across decades instead of years.

Offline Lars-J

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #25 on: 06/24/2017 03:33 AM »
If Pentagon is really concerned about the solids industrial base, the obvious answer is staring them in the face. Spread out procurement to smaller contracts awarded more often. Downsizing for contractors is OK...

Well, then it costs them (and us taxpayers) more, and it's difficult to spread out the really big procurements like ICBMS across decades instead of years.

No. Only in politics does that make sense. Why should it cost more to buy less?

Why do we need an enormous solids industrial base? Are we suddenly going to use up all weapons and need a massive super sized buy? No trust me - if we suddenly have a massive need of new missiles because we fired most of them, there won't be a civilization left to worry about.

Offline gospacex

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #26 on: 06/24/2017 09:19 AM »
I'm surprised to hear that ICBMs are such a huge fraction of all solid production. I thought the smaller stuff, from hand-held AT4s to AMRAAMs to SM3 to MLRS to ATACMS is continually in production and collectively their numbers are substantial?
« Last Edit: 06/24/2017 09:20 AM by gospacex »

Offline Rik ISS-fan

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #27 on: 06/24/2017 10:59 AM »
I'm surprised to hear that ICBMs are such a huge fraction of all solid production. I thought the smaller stuff, from hand-held AT4s to AMRAAMs to SM3 to MLRS to ATACMS is continually in production and collectively their numbers are substantial?

I think the real problem is the elimination of RSRMs. The Space shuttle launch roughly 3x annually. Each launch required 2x 4-segment RSRMs that contain 1.1mln lb. So 6x 1.1mln lb = 6.6mln lb of production was droped with the termination of the Space shuttle program.

The Atlas and Delta rockets use considerable numbers of solids that are roughly the same size as SLBM/ICBM first stages. Delta 4 roughly 4x and Atlas V roughly 12x solids of ~65k lb of solid fuel ~1mln lb.
The active fleet of SLBMs ICBMs and GBI are in the range of 600-750 missiles. Each missile contains between 50k and 130k lb of solid fuel. Lets assume an average of 85k lb and a stowage live of 25years. Annual production would be 24-30 missiles or 2 - 2.5mln lb of solid propallent.
Most smaller missiles only contain <300lb of propallent. with a annual production of 5000 = 1.5mln lb.
Larger missiles (SM; PAC; Thaad) Contain ~1500lb; lets assume their production is at 500 annually = 0.75mln lb.

So RSRBs were the largest users. And their requirement is gone. The facilities are to large for the requirement without new large solid boosters. Safraan has the Ariane program that is by far the larges costumer.

Offline Kabloona

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #28 on: 06/24/2017 01:08 PM »
I'm surprised to hear that ICBMs are such a huge fraction of all solid production. I thought the smaller stuff, from hand-held AT4s to AMRAAMs to SM3 to MLRS to ATACMS is continually in production and collectively their numbers are substantial?

I think the real problem is the elimination of RSRMs. The Space shuttle launch roughly 3x annually. Each launch required 2x 4-segment RSRMs that contain 1.1mln lb. So 6x 1.1mln lb = 6.6mln lb of production was droped with the termination of the Space shuttle program.

The Atlas and Delta rockets use considerable numbers of solids that are roughly the same size as SLBM/ICBM first stages. Delta 4 roughly 4x and Atlas V roughly 12x solids of ~65k lb of solid fuel ~1mln lb.
The active fleet of SLBMs ICBMs and GBI are in the range of 600-750 missiles. Each missile contains between 50k and 130k lb of solid fuel. Lets assume an average of 85k lb and a stowage live of 25years. Annual production would be 24-30 missiles or 2 - 2.5mln lb of solid propallent.

Yes, and the problem with ICBM/SLBM is that not many of them are used in peacetime, so you end up with huge spikes in capacity need every few decades when new designs (eg Peacekeeper) get built.

And as I've said above, it's not just the need for facilities, it's the need for chemists, ChemE's, etc, with experience in solid propellant chemistry, which is notoriously tricky. You can't just get those people out of grad school. A lot of the old gray-hairs from Shuttle SRB, Peacekeeper, etc, are disappearing, and some of their knowledge is being lost. Some things can't be learned from books. So it's a concern that the industry is losing this expertise.

Offline Jim

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #29 on: 06/24/2017 01:11 PM »

1.  But do solids always require AP?!  ;)
2.  Missile most of the time use more exotic oxidizers.

1. yes
2. no


Offline Jim

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #30 on: 06/24/2017 01:16 PM »
If Pentagon is really concerned about the solids industrial base, the obvious answer is staring them in the face. Spread out procurement to smaller contracts awarded more often. Downsizing for contractors is OK...

That doesn't work.  There is no way to spread out a new ICBM development into smaller more often contracts.

Offline Jim

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #31 on: 06/24/2017 01:17 PM »
If Pentagon is really concerned about the solids industrial base, the obvious answer is staring them in the face. Spread out procurement to smaller contracts awarded more often. Downsizing for contractors is OK...

Well, then it costs them (and us taxpayers) more, and it's difficult to spread out the really big procurements like ICBMS across decades instead of years.

No. Only in politics does that make sense. Why should it cost more to buy less?


No, that is reality.  it costs more per unit because of fixed costs.

Offline gospacex

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #32 on: 06/24/2017 01:18 PM »
And as I've said above, it's not just the need for facilities, it's the need for chemists, ChemE's, etc, with experience in solid propellant chemistry, which is notoriously tricky. You can't just get those people out of grad school. A lot of the old gray-hairs from Shuttle SRB, Peacekeeper, etc, are disappearing, and some of their knowledge is being lost. Some things can't be learned from books. So it's a concern that the industry is losing this expertise.

I would think the number of chemists required is not scaling linearly with the mass of SRMs built? If you are building, say, relatively "small" motors of SM3 missiles (compared to Shuttle SRBs), you still need about the same number of chemists controlling fuel parameters, no?

Offline Kabloona

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #33 on: 06/24/2017 01:31 PM »
And as I've said above, it's not just the need for facilities, it's the need for chemists, ChemE's, etc, with experience in solid propellant chemistry, which is notoriously tricky. You can't just get those people out of grad school. A lot of the old gray-hairs from Shuttle SRB, Peacekeeper, etc, are disappearing, and some of their knowledge is being lost. Some things can't be learned from books. So it's a concern that the industry is losing this expertise.

I would think the number of chemists required is not scaling linearly with the mass of SRMs built? If you are building, say, relatively "small" motors of SM3 missiles (compared to Shuttle SRBs), you still need about the same number of chemists controlling fuel parameters, no?

Yes, it's not a perfectly linear relationship, but the smaller the demand in the "down" years, the fewer experienced people you have available the when DoD gets around to replacing Minuteman. (Those plans are in work, but it will be many years before motors start being cast.)

http://www.military.com/daily-news/2016/09/25/us-air-force-set-replace-intercontinental-nuke-arsenal.html
« Last Edit: 06/24/2017 01:44 PM by Kabloona »

Offline Lars-J

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Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #34 on: 06/24/2017 04:33 PM »
If Pentagon is really concerned about the solids industrial base, the obvious answer is staring them in the face. Spread out procurement to smaller contracts awarded more often. Downsizing for contractors is OK...

That doesn't work.  There is no way to spread out a new ICBM development into smaller more often contracts.

Then they are going to have to figure out another way and do more with less.

Because there is a decent chance that in the near-ish future (10-20yrs) there will *No* solids used in any domestic launch vehicle. Vulcan may be the last of its breed.
« Last Edit: 06/24/2017 04:33 PM by Lars-J »

Offline Jim

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #35 on: 06/24/2017 05:02 PM »

Because there is a decent chance that in the near-ish future (10-20yrs) there will *No* solids used in any domestic launch vehicle. Vulcan may be the last of its breed.

No, there will still be quick reaction vehicles.

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #36 on: 06/24/2017 06:02 PM »

None of these scale well with solid motors, and actually raise more safety issues. Outside of air launch systems, where the risks as a munition can be managed by existing protocols and flight from managed bases, there's not a lot of opportunities for a manifest.

So with the top of the launch services pyramid eroding for solids, and the bottom under attack shortly, there's a circumscribed future back to munitions delivery systems.

Past NGL, don't see much on the horizon.

Which is another reason for the Pentagon to be concerned about the solids industrial base, and all the more reason to force OA et alia to buy local.

As they did before solids were used for LV's. Suggest it was an unsuccessful diversion for a few decades, and that's drawing to a close. IMHO, it was a precarious presumption from the start, and held back LV development.

Now, back to coping with Eisenhower's "Military Industrial Base", which he sternly warned about ... it's the same issue it has always been, and likely always will be. Omitting the above evasion, like any weapons system, you phase in/out .

Thoughts: 

A) What if there never really was a means to reduce the costs, and this was just a giant "red herring" that gets to be continually resurrected?

B) What if we keep instantiating the same technology instead of finding/evolving the next follow-on to current solids, suggesting that we need to budget tech research (weapons development) as the increment in funding, where that might find alternate uses to broaden the base of usage?

(The key reason solids are uninteresting as LV propulsion is not that they are solids but because while they are "good enough" performance wise for current weapons systems delivery, its that they are ludicrously not competitive. If we couldn't afford the weapons systems because they are not funded by government fiat, they wouldn't be made this way.)

C) Perhaps its due to the global lack of rivals for such weapons systems that there is no pressure on such propulsion systems? If so, then the lifetime of such systems must be extended, and we should "end of life" solids and drive all into exotic weapons systems research for means that don't require such propulsions? (ie. eventually solids will become too routine by all rivals that the cost of the installed base IS the barrier to use)

I wonder if we are receiving the right message here, or simply trying to avoid the obvious conclusion: that we are supporting/preserving a "dead end". Time to "think different" in some manner.

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #37 on: 06/24/2017 06:04 PM »

Because there is a decent chance that in the near-ish future (10-20yrs) there will *No* solids used in any domestic launch vehicle. Vulcan may be the last of its breed.

No, there will still be quick reaction vehicles.
You can make them w/o solids. Perhaps you are being too narrow minded as to solutions?

Offline Jim

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #38 on: 06/24/2017 06:21 PM »
You can make them w/o solids. Perhaps you are being too narrow minded as to solutions?

No, the point that was too narrow minded is thinking that there would be no solid launch vehicles at all.
« Last Edit: 06/24/2017 06:22 PM by Jim »

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #39 on: 06/24/2017 06:24 PM »
You can make them w/o solids. Perhaps you are being too narrow minded as to solutions?

No, the point that was too narrow minded is thinking that there would be no solid launch vehicles at all.

If it can't economically justify its existence (and becomes too easy for others), it's military significance is lost.

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