Author Topic: Solid Propellant Industrial Base  (Read 9613 times)

Offline Jim

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #40 on: 06/24/2017 06:27 PM »

(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.)


Not true at all.  Solid motors vehicles have lower O&M costs than a liquid system.  They are the cheaper solution, that is why they exist in the first place.  They are more responsive and quicker reaction time.

Offline Jim

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #41 on: 06/24/2017 06:29 PM »
If it can't economically justify its existence (and becomes too easy for others), it's military significance is lost.

wrong.  they are no different than aircraft carrier and SLBM shipyards. They do not economically justify their existence but they are militarily necessary .
« Last Edit: 06/24/2017 06:31 PM by Jim »

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #42 on: 06/24/2017 06:47 PM »

(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.)


Not true at all.  Solid motors vehicles have lower O&M costs than a liquid system.  They are the cheaper solution, that is why they exist in the first place.
Retrospectively only.

If we consider the impact of electric powered LRE's, they have the potential to displace solids and exceed performance.

Quote
They are more responsive and quicker reaction time.
Tactical response rate yes, although you could have a pulsed energy propulsion system that's faster/quicker (sub millisecond).

More than one way to achieve the effect. What if someone else invests first and it's key to a tactical advantage?

And as to strategic response, storables are adequate, and electric powered fill/drain isn't a significant impact for the limited scale weapons we're looking at.

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

wrong.  they are no different than aircraft carrier and SLBM shipyards. They do not economically justify their existence but they are militarily necessary .


You don't need the bulk of the existing military industrial complex we're supporting to generate comparable threat level.

Thus you invite threat that outspends you, because it encourages an arms race where a large economic pulse in a narrow footprint that eclipses yours before you can ramp to meet the threat.

So your justification kills you. Brilliant.

Offline Jim

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #43 on: 06/24/2017 06:55 PM »
And as to strategic response, storables are adequate, and electric powered fill/drain isn't a significant impact for the limited scale weapons we're looking at.


What storables?  There are still more O&M costs with liquids, even benign ones. Electric powered fill/drain has no bearing on the matter.

Offline Jim

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #44 on: 06/24/2017 06:57 PM »

You don't need the bulk of the existing military industrial complex we're supporting to generate comparable threat level.


that is not true and not a subject for debate here

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #45 on: 06/24/2017 07:14 PM »
And as to strategic response, storables are adequate, and electric powered fill/drain isn't a significant impact for the limited scale weapons we're looking at.


What storables?  There are still more O&M costs with liquids, even benign ones. Electric powered fill/drain has no bearing on the matter.
Russia/others still use storables.

O&M costs with LOX/HC in smaller volumes have dropped due to economic/technology shifts. Given that vehicle/payload size for weapons is similarly constrained, its worth a new look/formulation.

Fill/drain matter as time to launch.


You don't need the bulk of the existing military industrial complex we're supporting to generate comparable threat level.


that is not true and not a subject for debate here
Examine my earlier posts that detailed the rationale.

Why is it not subject for debate? Wouldn't it explain the economic history here well?

Offline Jim

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #46 on: 06/24/2017 07:37 PM »
Maintaining LOX at a missile site for decades is going to cost.  A solid has to be mixed and poured only once

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #47 on: 06/24/2017 07:49 PM »
Maintaining LOX at a missile site for decades is going to cost.  A solid has to be mixed and poured only once
We manage various cryogen's routinely at manufacturing and medical facilities. Everyday occurrence is passing a cryogen truck on the freeway. You're mired in the past.

Online rayleighscatter

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #48 on: 06/24/2017 08:02 PM »
The Navy will never load up a submarine with cryogenic or hypergolic fuels. Never.

Offline Jim

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #49 on: 06/24/2017 08:08 PM »
Maintaining LOX at a missile site for decades is going to cost.  A solid has to be mixed and poured only once
We manage various cryogen's routinely at manufacturing and medical facilities. Everyday occurrence is passing a cryogen truck on the freeway. You're mired in the past.

 No, you are ignoring reality.  I am talking about weekly/monthly trips to refill 400-500 tanks thoughout the Dakotas and Wyoming.  And more often when they have a readiness test and load the missile.   And there is that submarine thing.

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #50 on: 06/24/2017 08:16 PM »
The Navy will never load up a submarine with cryogenic or hypergolic fuels. Never.
For some of the MHD propulsion concepts they've investigated, yes, they've had large volumes of cryogen's well under water in a submarine. They make cryogenic oxygen a walk in the park in comparison.

Plus, there are some nanotech cryogenic cooling technologies that can avoid the need for plumbing and venting (except for emergency venting, which is handled as a part of safeing procedures.

Do not wish to derail this thread. But do wish to point out that technology isn't frozen.

So instead of identifying issues, please consider the theme behind what I was saying up thread.

Edit/lar: a bit of softening

Maintaining LOX at a missile site for decades is going to cost.  A solid has to be mixed and poured only once
We manage various cryogen's routinely at manufacturing and medical facilities. Everyday occurrence is passing a cryogen truck on the freeway. You're mired in the past.

 No, you are ignoring reality.  I am talking about weekly/monthly trips to refill 400-500 tanks thoughout the Dakotas and Wyoming.  And more often when they have a readiness test and load the missile.   And there is that submarine thing.

You're just evading my comments up thread, hoping for a miracle. You don't need as much cryogens if a)you're missiles are smaller and b) you regen in place economically. It's just top off.

You're stuck in the past with the ancient Atlas ICBMs. Am talking about cutting edge things starting to happen in other markets, that will go back into aerospace.
« Last Edit: 06/27/2017 09:23 PM by Lar »

Online rayleighscatter

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #51 on: 06/24/2017 08:39 PM »

Or is it too much to face that challenge head on?
So you either advance it, or get on with something else that is advancing. Got that?

No, I'm afraid I don't.

Why does ceasing production of ammonium perchlorate "advance" but continuing production of it "stops?" Seeing as that's the topic at hand.
« Last Edit: 06/24/2017 08:40 PM by rayleighscatter »

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #52 on: 06/24/2017 09:32 PM »

Or is it too much to face that challenge head on?
So you either advance it, or get on with something else that is advancing. Got that?

No, I'm afraid I don't.

Why does ceasing production of ammonium perchlorate "advance" but continuing production of it "stops?" Seeing as that's the topic at hand.

The topic of this thread is "Solid Propellant Industrial Base". AP is only a fraction of that.

My earlier post inline here:

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.

Eisenhower warned of "the tail wagging the dog". Is the need for a weapons system component "tail" wagging the launch provider's dog? AP is a means to that end. Perhaps a) there is an alternative here and we are not listening, or b) we are so stuck in a rut that we don't notice that if its a single use (e.g. "weapons system component") unchanging technology otherwise not competitive, perhaps it is a strategic vulnerability that we might get bogged down in?

Additional collateral so Jim can nitpick me more:

Have been due dilligencing microlaunch's more than a dozen companies/concepts, most of which have significant flaws for becoming providers (perhaps they will "cure" them and survive). Some of what they've done illustrates alternative weapons delivery concepts that might be credible. Not a single one of them involves AP or solids in general.

If any succeed, the growth path for them puts them above ICBM levels, with a much improved economic base, that leverages other indigenous industry strengths. They could become rival technologies that might shift certain balances.

Also, in other tech sectors there's been developments in propellants and cryogen handling, for non aerospace application. One is to reduce the cost of maintaining cryogens on location by reducing deliveries from once a week to once a year. And that's not even changing old insulation or plumbing/dispensing.

So ... are we solving the right problem. Which Jim thinks is OT.

Something else not being heard is that perhaps the problem isn't solids per se, but that expensive military solids price themselves out of markets entirely, and perhaps if you want dual use, you fix that problem first and phase it back in to military use.

Did this try work any better than the last? Thank you for asking.

Offline Jim

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #53 on: 06/24/2017 09:38 PM »
Very interesting argument, but Once a year is just plain wrong.  That doesn't happen without energy input.
« Last Edit: 06/24/2017 09:47 PM by Chris Bergin »

Offline Space Ghost 1962

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #54 on: 06/24/2017 10:07 PM »
Very interesting argument, but Once a year is just plain wrong.  That doesn't happen without energy input.
Thank you for the fine complement.

You're right, it doesn't happen w/o energy input. In the example I cited, it has tons of energy added in. Electrical energy.

In fact the key weakness in the technology mentioned is that they need to improve the power consumption used by its "recondensing in tank" nanotechnology. It's fascinating how it works, but its not yet ready for prime time.

That it can work is what impressed me. And ... it was done on a trivial grant. Am trying to get them more attention from certain interests. There's another also with a more traditional chiller too.

(Some particle accelerators and detector's I've worked with have given me experience with superconductors and cryogens, FWIW. But that's OT.)

add:

FWIW

Another way of putting my upthread comments is "perhaps its time to disrupt solid proplusion technology or weapons delivery systems". Disrupt as in disruptive technology

Which isn't a "dirty word" here as some might consider it, but actually an exciting prospect.

Hope this helps you understand the perspective I'm attempting to share to complement this discussion.
« Last Edit: 06/24/2017 10:13 PM by Space Ghost 1962 »

Offline butters

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #55 on: 06/24/2017 10:16 PM »
This seems like a failure of vertical integration. I'm not sure if AMPAC is producing or buying sodium chlorate, but it looks like they are at least producing sodium perchlorate in-house. This is an electrolytic process which benefits massively from economies of scale and is similar to the process used to produce chlorine and lye.

Producing, handling, and storing ammonium perchlorate is much more hazardous, but it's a relatively simple process which if anything benefits from the smallest practical scale. Vertically integrating these two processes just doesn't seem like a wise idea.

Online Rebel44

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #56 on: 06/24/2017 11:21 PM »
IMO: If armed forces want someone to support Solid propellant industry, they should buy more rocket artillery and large stockpiles of ammo for it - instead of asking for others (who have budget that is fraction of DoD budget) to subsidize that industry.

Forcing industry to become more efficient would also help...

Online edkyle99

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #57 on: 06/25/2017 01:38 AM »
Russia/others still use storables.
Russia, China, India, Pakistan, even Iran and North Korea, are upgrading or creating new solid motor missile systems as fast as they can.  Russia specifically is phasing out storable missiles while developing new solid missiles. 

The last U.S. storable ICBM was Titan 2, which infamously suffered a series of disasters and near-disasters during its service.  The big missiles were retired to be replaced by MX - a solid motor missile (subsequently retired as a result of arms talks).  More recently, the U.S. has been replacing/upgrading solid motors on its existing Minuteman missiles.  It continues to test its solid motor SLBMs with regular cadence.  It is developing a new generation of ABMs that are all, of course, solid motor based.  It is working on a new generation of advanced solid motors that could lead to a new ICBM to eventually replace Minuteman.

As for next generation launch vehicles, Ariane 6, Vulcan, GLSV-Mk 3, H-3, the advanced Vega, etc., all plan to use solid motors.  China has introduced a series of new solid-motor based orbital launchers.  Those that don't use them (Falcon 9, New Glenn, CZ-7, etc.) are probably in the minority.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 06/25/2017 01:46 AM by edkyle99 »

Offline Lars-J

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #58 on: 06/25/2017 02:02 AM »
As for next generation launch vehicles, Ariane 6, Vulcan, GLSV-Mk 3, H-3, the advanced Vega, etc., all plan to use solid motors.  China has introduced a series of new solid-motor based orbital launchers.  Those that don't use them (Falcon 9, New Glenn, CZ-7, etc.) are probably in the minority.

My point was about US launchers. And all those launchers you listed are already operational or deep in development. (Vulcan being the newest) From this point on, I doubt you will see few - if any - launchers with solids announced.

As for the domestic situation, SLS and Vulcan is very likely the last gasp of solids in domestic space launch. (The only exception being the OATK's own NGLV, if they spend their own money)

But if you still think that solids are the future for space launch, I'll gladly make a bet with you.

-----------

EDIT: Just to be clear, as far as ICBMs go, solids are (currently) the way to go, I don't see that going away anytime soon. My point is merely about *space launch* and how that technology will diverge from missiles.
« Last Edit: 06/25/2017 02:03 AM by Lars-J »

Offline Chasm

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Re: Solid Propellant Industrial Base
« Reply #59 on: 06/25/2017 05:36 AM »
Time for a solid fuel tax.  8)
As in: If your launch vehicles does not use (significant) amounts of solid fuel you pay the tax.

No idea what will get actually done with that money, but some district will certainly need it.


Europe will face a similar problem post Ariane 6.
The companies and nations with solid propellant production certainly want to stay in business even if reuse needs different solutions.

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